The Money In The Massachusetts Senate Race
By Dwight L. Morris
By Dwight L. Morris
The fund-raising styles of Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry and his Republican opponent, Gov. William F. Weld, could not be more different. Neither could the results.
On December 31, 1995, Kerry had $2,327,823 in his campaign bank account. Weld, who had officially been in the race only one month, already had cash reserves of $506,141. Three months later, Kerry's bank balance stood virtually unchanged at $2,334,426; Weld's treasury had swelled to $1,984,299.
Weld's phenomenal fund-raising success has been driven by an almost absolute dependence on large donations. Since entering the race last November, Weld has raised $2,594,219, and an astounding 89 percent of that total ($2,306,143) has come from individuals who gave $200 or more. Even more impressive perhaps is the fact that he's collected 3,000 individual contributions of at least $200, and 60 percent of those checks have been made out for $1,000 or more.
Weld earned a political IOU by raising $1 million for California Gov. Pete Wilson's failed presidential bid last year roughly half of it in Massachusetts. During the first three months of 1996, Weld cashed in on that IOU. In late February and early March, executives of Montgomery Securities, a San Francisco brokerage house, and their spouses gave Weld 62 checks totaling $84,250. Not surprisingly, the firm's executives had given Wilson a total of $109,125 during his last two gubernatorial campaigns.
Top executives of the Irvine Company, a real estate development firm headquartered in Orange County, California, gave Weld $9,000; the company's PAC anted up another $5,000. The firm was also the single largest contributor to Wilson's 1994 gubernatorial campaign.
Employees of Trust Company of the West, a money management firm and yet another major Wilson backer, contributed $15,000 to Weld. In all, during the first four months of his campaign, Californians donated $344,650 to his cause, including $331,650 between January 1 and March 31.
While Californians were particularly generous to Weld, they were not the only out-of-state residents anxious to help Weld. Since officially launching his campaign, he has taken in $355,850 from New Yorkers, $77,650 from Floridians, $56,250 from Pennsylvania residents, $53,150 from Connecticut residents, and $44,150 from New Jersey residents, including a $1,000 donation from Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
As the Montgomery Securities numbers might suggest, wherever Weld stopped, he could count on the support of financial services executives and their spouses. Over the first four months of his campaign, Weld raked in $669,600 from such donors, including $25,250 from employees of the Soros Fund. Executives of Bain Capital, TA Associates, and Fidelity Investments, all of Boston, have weighed in with large donations amounting to $22,000, $18,750, and $16,600, respectively.
This dependence on large donors he raised only $111,020 from PACs and $160,376 from individuals who gave less than $200 allowed Weld to close his cash-on-hand gap with Kerry while spending just $116,237 on fund-raising. Direct-mail expenses associated with his small-donor outreach totaled $61,276, including $53,954 paid to Karl Rove & Company of Austin, Texas. Fund-raising receptions, including those aimed at the Washington PAC community, cost $54,961.
Weld's total expenditures, including office overhead, fund-raising, polling, advertising, rallies, and other forms of voter communication, have amounted to only $585,968.
In sharp contrast, Kerry has raised $7,156,704 since January 1, 1991, but, driven largely by the $2,776,119 he has invested in fund-raising, he has already burned through $5,147,713 of that total. To cultivate a small-donor base that now numbers roughly 60,000, Kerry has pumped $1,157,074 into direct-mail solicitations and another $1,130,089 into telemarketing. This massive effort has yielded donations totaling $2,903,978 from individuals who gave less than $200. During the first three months of 1996 alone, Kerry's small-donor outreach netted 21,861 contributions averaging $55.
Although he depends significantly less than Weld on his large-donor base and refuses to take PAC contributions, Kerry is not without his major benefactors, both inside and outside Massachusetts.
As a member of the Commerce, Science and Technology Committee, Kerry played a key role in the debate over telecommunications deregulation last year. Months after being named a "lifetime hero" by the Consumer Federation of America, Kerry sided against consumer-backed amendments to the deregulation bill that would have capped cable television rate increases and basic service charges. On June 10, 1995, just five days prior to joining 80 other Senators in passing the landmark legislation, Kerry received $28,000 from partners of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, a Boston law firm whose partners have given him $112,046 since 1984. Perhaps not coincidentally, the firm represents a number of corporations with interests in telecommunications deregulation, including Tele-Communications Inc., Time Warner Inc., Turner Broadcasting, and the National Cable Television Association.
While he is one of only four Senators to eschew PAC money, Kerry has had no problems accepting contributions from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. residents many of whom were lobbyists totaling $299,861 over the past five years. During that same period, numerous trips to New York, California, Florida, and Texas have netted $463,353, $367,503, $176,099, and $95,796, respectively. Between January 1, 1991 and March 31, 1996, out-of-state donations accounted for half the large contributions Kerry collected.
Kerry has one other trump card, which he has opted not to play so far. Married to Teresa Heinz, the widow of the late Sen. H. John Heinz 3rd (R-Pa.), Kerry is now in a position to tap into a not-so-small fortune (his wife's current assets are valued somewhere in the neighborhood of $760 million). However, his only bow in that direction to date has been his occasional use of his wife's personal jet dubbed the "Flying Squirrel" to travel to fund-raising events. The campaign has rigorously followed requirements that he pay the equivalent of full, first-class airfare whenever he takes the Flying Squirrel out for a spin.
Should Kerry's early fund-raising advantage fade entirely as a result of his insistence on appealing to small donors, he may have to rethink his position on using his share of the marital joint property to its fullest.
This article originally appeared on the PoliticsNow Web site.
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