A few observations on the campaign finances in the 2007 Denver municipal elections.
First, our expectation that people give money to ensure a victory by their candidate just doesn't add up. Look at the below fundraising numbers put up by Mayor John Hickenlooper. Why are people giving in droves to a man who is cruising to victory? Why do his finances skyrocket at the end, with no serious race in sight? Because they want power and access, and for that, nothing's better than a sure winner for the top post in city government.
Then there's the matter of incumbents. In addition to their war chests, they can raise money quickly. Look at the sharply increasing figures for Councilwoman Carol Boigon, who raised nearly $100,000 in just four months:
Then there are the open seats. Here the candidates in Council District 7 (Nevitt, Watters, and Connor) clearly outpaced the field.
Finally, we look at the challengers. How hard is to raise money against an incumbent? Only one breached the $10k barrier.
If donors were largely ideological, new challengers willing to instantiate ideas would gain the most money. But what donors really want is access. So you give money where it's sure to do some good, to those people who are sure to get re-elected. See the below averages for City Council fundraising by incumbents, open seat candidates, and challengers.
Oh yes, and then you bemoan what a terribly boring election we're having. Why haven't we heard any new ideas?
Be a dear and pass another hors d'ourve, won't you?