Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CD7: In-depth analysis of campaign finances - and by extension, the race itself

Money tells a lot about a candidate. In that spirit, we have analyzed the contributions in the City Council District 7 race to tell a more complete story of this highly-competitive race.

Currently, Nevitt and Watters are battling for supremacy in terms of total dollars raised:
Chris Nevitt $65,209
Shelly Watters $52,723
Julie Connor $21,800
But of course, such raw numbers tell only a small part of the story. Trends over time and changes within the donor base are also crucial. For instance, even at the beginning of the race, there was a great deal of money ($41,775 to be exact). Since then, the scale of monthly contributions has risen somewhat unevenly: Shelly Watters' contributions have diminished while Nevitt has surged and Julie Connor is increasing the pace.

Chris Nevitt has the lead in the total number of contributions, with an especially big surge in March.

But the most significant difference between the candidates is their reliance on big-ticket donors. Whereas both Julie Connor and Chris Nevitt have a roughly even split among their donor base, more than 80% of the contributors to Shelly Watters campaign have donated $250 or more.

Who are the primary donors financing this race? A small number of stalwarts are the real power behind each candidacy, giving maximum $1000 contributions. Below is a list of "maxed out" donors for each candidate:
Shelly Watters: David Kenney, Brad Buchanan, Doug McKinnon, Elaine Berman, Eric Miller, Evan Makovsky, Foster Graham Milstein & Calisher, Greg Stevinson, Harold Grueskin, Harvey Deutsch, Howard Greinetz, Jay Kamlet, Jennifer Watters, Joyce Foster, Marcia Robinson, Marilyn Schwartz, Mark Goldberg, Medical Property Holdings, Norman Brownstein, Paradise Properties, Sage Hospitality, Sheldon Steinhauser, and Sherri Way

Chris Nevitt: Audrey Nevitt, Robert Nevitt, Carpenters Union 55, Chris Mygatt, Colorado Machinists, CSCEW, Firefighters Local 858, Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Int'l Union of Painters, James Mauro Jr, Jessica Brady, Joanie Condoret, Jon Condoret, Journeyman Plumbers, Kristen Stoever, Local 720 PAC, NECA, Refrigeration & AC Assoc, Service Employees Local 105, Sheetmetal Workers, Teamsters Municipal PAC, and Transit Union Workers #1001

Julie Connor: Ajay Kapoor, Denver Police, Michael Stratton, Tom Connor, United Food & Commercial Workers

These folks can no longer give. But will they support another candidate? It appears unlikely. Although we often assume that donors give money to multiple candidates ("playing the odds," as it were), that phenomenon has been remarkably limited in this campaign. Of the 799 contributors, only 14 have (so far) given money to more than one candidate.
David Cole ($200 to both Julie & Shelly, $50 to Chris)
Sherri Way ($1000 to Shelly, $250 to Chris)
Jim Jones ($500 to Shelly, $250 to Chris)
Rich Delanoy ($350 to Shelly, $250 to Julie)
Sharon Withers ($250 to Shelly, $50 to Chris)
Charlotte Winzenburg ($200 to Chris, $50 to Julie)
Gertie Grant ($200 to Chris, $25 to Julie)
Joe Cannata ($100 to both Chris & Shelly)
Lynn Pressnall ($100 to Chris, $75 to Julie)
Jeff Leventhal ($100 to Chris, $25 to Shelly)
Brenda McHenry ($50 to Julie, $25 to Shelly)
Sheila Robinson ($50 to Chris, $40 to Shelly)
Tom Parsons ($50 to both Chris & Julie)
Charlie Busch ($50 to both Julie & Shelly)

In the end, we are left with several strong impressions:
  • Chris Nevitt has a strong lead in campaign financing, not only because he has the overall margin but because he has energized a wide base of donors. He also has the most institutional support through a variety of union connections.
  • Shelly Watters' financial backing is dominated by wealthy, business-oriented contributors in the legal and land-development communities. Her initial lead is now lost, and neither the percentage of "maxed out" donors nor the small number of ordinary contributors bodes well.
  • Julie Connor has the highest percentage of small dollar donations and the smallest percentage of "maxed out" donors. Her finance options are therefore the most promising, with an opportunity to exploit her attractiveness to ordinary voters and/or squeeze higher dollar values from her base. But this financial gap needs to be closed for uninvolved or undecided voters to hear her message.

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