As it always to be expected when the news is good, the fundraising previews for both Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott were out last night, which is a day early. The news on both sides was, indeed, good.
Abbott’s no slouch in the fundraising department. No doubt he has a lot of cash – significantly more in the bank than Davis does, in fact.
But the real news is on Wendy Davis’ side: Not only did she slightly out-fundraise Abbott during the reporting period ($12.2 million for Davis vs. $11.5 for Abbott), but she raised it from almost 72,000 individual donors. That donor number is at a level I cannot even comprehend, and is very good news for the Davis effort. She’ll be able to return time after time to those small dollar donors and they’ll keep giving – which is something one cannot often say about the mega-donors.
But the proverbial ink hadn’t dried on the announcement tweets about all this, before the Republicans began howling about Davis’ “fuzzy math.” Their claim is that since $3.5 million of Davis’ fundraising went into something called the “Texas Victory Committee, Inc.,” that she shouldn’t have counted it toward her fundraising.
The Texas Victory Committee is an account set up by the Davis Campaign to raise money into, the expenditures of which will eventually be shared between the Davis campaign itself, and a coordinated effort for Democrats, presumably led by Battleground Texas. (Battleground Texas, incidentally, reported raising an additional $1.8 million in contributions on their own, which the Davis Campaign did not count toward their own fundraising totals)
Here’s why the Republican claims of “fuzzy math” are dead wrong:
Wendy Davis’ campaign raised the entirety of the money going into the Victory Committee. That’s a financial structure they chose from the start, in part to track the funding of coordinated efforts. She was the draw at the events raising the money – people put money in the till to see Davis. To get an idea of how this works, and to demonstrate the extent to which Davis’ efforts are absolutely central to Victory Committee fundraising, take a look at a typical invitation — from Wendy Davis — to a Victory Fund event:
The typical way campaigns have historically funded coordinated efforts is to raise the money into their own campaign, then write a check out of their campaign down the road to the coordinated campaign. The Davis campaign is instead raising money for these and other purposes into a separate entity from the start.
Republicans would have you believe that it’s disingenuous for Wendy Davis to count money from a coordinated campaign as her own fundraising. But they’re the ones being disingenuous, because Victory Fund money isn’t going from a coordinated campaign to Wendy Davis – rather it’s money from Wendy Davis to a coordinated campaign.
So to review the Republicans’ claim: it’s dishonest for Wendy Davis to claim money Wendy Davis raised, and which will ultimately go toward electing Wendy Davis, as part of Wendy Davis’ fundraising totals. Tell me again who’s using the fuzzy math? It makes me dizzy.
If Greg Abbott’s team doesn’t want Wendy Davis to claim as part of her fundraising totals that money which she is contributing to a coordinated effort, then Greg Abbott should subtract from his totals whatever amount he anticipates he will eventually contribute to the Republican coordinated effort. If, in the alternative, he is raising money directly into his coordinated effort, as Davis has done, he should have counted it as part of his total – assuming he hasn’t co-mingled that money with that of other Republican candidates who are also contributing to the Republican effort.
The punchline to all this is that the Republicans didn’t need to obscure reality on this – the fact remains that Abbott still has a hefty financial advantage on Davis – the man has more than $20 million in the bank. They should have been crowing about that, instead of confusing people, based solely on the financial structure the Davis’ campaign chose to raise money into.
And no matter what the Republicans complain about, Davis’ fundraising totals erase the one remaining doubt that the race for Governor will, indeed, be a real one.