The Arizona Republic
GOP has a financial edge in state races
Does it seem as if this election season has brought an unusual torrent of political advertising?
It’s not your imagination.
This year’s statewide elections are among the most expensive in Arizona history, and voters can see tangible evidence: More ads on the airwaves. More fliers in their mailboxes. More attack ads in general.
As of Wednesday, candidates and outside groups had poured more than $36.6 million into statewide races on the Nov. 6 ballot, campaign-finance reports show.
Campaign spending nears record
That makes the 2018 election cycle already the second-most costly statewide ever.
The only year with more money spent was 2014, when a record-breaking $50.5 million was expended through Election Day, largely because of a crowded Republican primary for an open gubernatorial seat.
This year’s total is still growing, and reflects candidate fundraising totals only through the Sept. 30 reporting deadline.
The total also doesn’t include spending on ballot initiatives. The campaigns for and against Proposition 127, the clean-energy measure, have made it the most expensive ballot-measure fight in Arizona history, with about $40 million spent so far.
Chuck Coughlin, a Republican consultant, said the ballooning cost of campaigns is worrisome because it means more negative ads and less direct communication between candidates and voters.
When he advised former Gov. Jan Brewer on her 2010 campaign, $17 million was spent on all statewide races that year. Eight years later, spending is more than double that amount with three weeks to go.
“(Those) seem like the horse and buggy days compared to the races that are being run now,” Coughlin said. What changed?
The effects of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case have come to fruition, ushering in a wave of unlimited spending from outside groups. This year, outside groups have spent at least $18 million on statewide races.
Democrats are also competing more aggressively across Arizona. In past years, they often didn’t field a candidate for every statewide office.
“Now, you have a whole slew of races, with candidates on both sides spending an inordinate amount of money,” Coughlin said. “This is the first time the Democrats have fielded a full slate of candidates.”
GOP candidates have money edge
Democrats are optimistic this year offers a chance to pick up a statewide office, especially given speculation about a “blue wave” at the polls. They’re also hopeful that support for the #RedForEd teacher movement will boost their chances.
But money is an obstacle for Democrats. Of the $36.6 million that’s poured into races for eight statewide elected offices, from governor to Corporation Commission, Republicans have the advantage in most of them.
GOP candidates have outraised their Democratic opponents — often by a margin of 2-to-1 or greater — in races for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer and the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, for example, has raised $5.62 million this cycle, compared with Democratic challenger David Garcia’s $1.83 million haul.
Les Braswell, an Arizona Democratic Party spokesman, downplayed the party’s fundraising situation in a statement Tuesday: “Democrats are competing for every seat and we’re running strong races in all of them.”
Democratic candidates have a clear financial edge in two statewide races: superintendent of public instruction and mine inspector.
Josselyn Berry, co-director of ProgressNow Arizona, said although Democrats have raised less money in most races, contributions pouring into the elections underscore Arizona’s status as an important battleground.
“I think it shows that, at least on the Republican side here in Arizona, they’re nervous about that blue wave,” she said. “And that’s why they’re soaking our state in all this money.”
Democrats’ hopes could also be boosted by outside spending that’s helped to even the battlefield in two hot races: attorney general and secretary of state, which have both drawn attention from national progressive groups.
Here’s how the candidates for those eight statewide offices races stack up in fundraising:
Governor’s race: Ducey blows Garcia away in fundraising
CANDIDATES: Ducey was first elected in 2014. He faces a challenge from Garcia, an associate professor at Arizona State University.
WHO’S AHEAD: Ducey has far outraised Garcia throughout the campaign. The governor has raked in more than $5.62 million this cycle, compared with $1.83 million for Garcia.
Finance reports show Ducey has received more large donations from lobbyists. He’s brought in $374,000 from political committees. Major donors include committees for Arizona Public Service Co.’s parent company Pinnacle West Capital Corp., Honeywell, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Society of CPAs.
Several donations note that they came through the “Ducey Victory Fund Committee,” a joint fundraising committee that benefits Ducey’s re-election campaign and the Arizona Republican Party.
Garcia has struggled to compete financially. He has relied heavily on small donors and has declined to take money from corporate political action committees; his average contribution was $52.12 in the last period, according to his campaign.
Finance records state Garcia has received about 32,000 contributions, compared with 3,300 for Ducey.
Garcia has accepted about $81,000 from political committees. Major donors include the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Arizona Education Association Fund for Public Education (an affiliate of the teachers’ union).
Ducey ended the period with $3.46 million on hand, compared with $481,000 for Garcia.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: Garcia has been pummeled by an unmatched wave of outside spending against him.
The Republican Governor’s Association has spent $8.25 million against Garcia, funding ads that attack his views on immigration and attempt to label him a radical liberal. At the same time, the RGA has spent $839,000 to support Ducey.
The spending disparity from the candidates’ supporters is massive, but Garcia’s campaign has received some help.
Among the independent expenses for Garcia: Planned Parenthood Votes spent $577,000; NextGen Climate Action Committee, a group backed by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, spent $545,000; and a variety of other progressive groups spent $372,000.
Outside groups, including ProgressNow Arizona, have spent an additional $71,000 attacking Ducey. A Steyerbacked group also spent $83,000 against the governor.
In total, pro-Ducey forces account for about $9.2 million of the $10.7million in outside money that has been spent in the race. That means pro-Garcia’s groups have been outspent 6-to-1.
SECOND-MOST EXPENSIVE RACE: This year’s race for governor is already the second-most expensive in state history, with more $19.9 million spent. But it’s unlikely the race will top 2014’s gubernatorial contest, when $31.5 million was spent in a year that included a crowded Republican primary.
Secretary of state: Dems spend big for Hobbs, Gaynor self-funds
CANDIDATES: Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Steve Gaynor are running for secretary of state. In Arizona, the secretary is the chief elections officer, and first in line to succeed the governor.
Hobbs, D-Phoenix, is the current minority leader in the state Senate and a former social worker. Gaynor is a wealthy businessman who owns a printing plant in California and an investment firm.
WHO’S AHEAD: Gaynor has raised $2 million, far exceeding Hobbs’ $782,000 haul.
Finance reports show Gaynor’s money has come almost entirely from his own pocket: He’s lent his campaign $1.9 million. He’s raised $103,000 from individuals.
Hobbs raised the bulk of her money from individual contributors, who gave about $100 or less. She’s received $79,000 from political committees. Major donors include Planned Parenthood and a half-dozen labor unions.
Gaynor ended the period with $234,00 on hand, compared with $411,000 for Hobbs.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: Hobbs has been boosted by a roughly $2.2 million ad blitz funded by the Arizona Democratic Party, according to Federal Communications Commission reports. The party has booked TV airtime until Election Day.
The state party raised more than $3.5 million in the last period, from a wide variety of donors, but it received two large contributions around the time of the Hobbs ad buy:
❚ $1 million from Karla Jurvetson, a California psychiatrist who was formerly married to venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.
❚ $895,000 from iVote Fund Arizona, an affiliate of a national progressive group that contends Republican secretaries of state have suppressed minority and low-income voters.
Meanwhile, Gaynor hasn’t benefited from any significant amount of outside spending thus far.
RECORD BREAKER: This year’s contest for secretary of state is already the most expensive campaign for the job in state history. So far, about $5.7 million has poured into the race, far exceeding the previous record of $3.3 million from 2014.
Attorney general: Outside money pours in from Steyer group
CANDIDATES: Republican incumbent Mark Brnovich faces Democrat January Contreras in the race for the state’s top legal office. Brnovich, a former assistant U.S attorney, was elected to the post in 2014. Contreras is a former prosecutor.
WHO’S AHEAD: Brnovich has raised $928,000, compared with $729,000 for Contreras.
Brnovich’s total includes $137,000 from political committees. Major donors include the Republican Attorneys General Association, homebuilding industry and state firefighters’ association.
Contreras has raised $59,000 from political committees. Major donors include the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List, a group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights.
Brnovich ended the period with $292,000 on hand, while Contreras had about $421,000.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: Money from outside groups has recently flooded the race as it draws increasing national attention.
Steyer’s organization in Arizona has spent more than $3.65 million to attack Brnovich; the group has criticized him for changing ballot language for Proposition 127, a clean-energy measure it supports.
But Brnovich also has benefited from independent-expenditure groups.
Arizona For Freedom, a group backed by the Republican AG’s association, has spent $620,000 to support Brnovich and $584,000 to attack Contreras.
According to a spokesman, the RAGA has spent more than $1.5 million total on TV ads promoting Brnovich and slamming Contreras, and it expects to spend at least another $1 million before the election.
The Democratic Attorneys General Association, meanwhile, has spent $750,000 to help Contreras get elected and likely will spend $1 million more over the next few weeks, a spokeswoman said.
NEAR-RECORD SPENDING: So far, more than $6.45 million has poured into the attorney general’s race. If spending continues to increase, this year’s campaign could exceed 2014’s record, when $8.15 million was spent.
Schools superintendent: Democrat Hoffman has cash edge
CANDIDATES: Democrat Kathy Hoffman and Republican Frank Riggs are competing to lead Arizona’s school system as superintendent of public instruction. Hoffman is a speech therapist. Riggs is a former U.S. congressman from California and charter school operator.
WHO’S AHEAD: Hoffman has raised $299,000. She is running a publicly financed campaign, so the vast majority of her money came from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
Riggs has struggled to compete as a privately financed candidate. He has raised $135,000 through private contributions, though most of the money came from himself: He lent his campaign $66,000; he and his wife also contributed $16,000.
Hoffman ended the period with $89,000 on hand, compared with $17,000 for Riggs.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: The Future We Want, a progressive political committee, has spent $7,000 in support of Hoffman and $7,000 to oppose Riggs.
Corporation Commission: Glassman has strong advantage
CANDIDATES: Two Republicans and two Democrats are running for two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission, the body that regulates utility companies.
The GOP candidates are Justin Olson, who was appointed to the commission by Ducey last year, and Rodney Glassman. Democrats on the ballot are former Commissioner Sandra Kennedy and newcomer Kiana Maria Sears.
WHO’S AHEAD: Glassman has far outraised any other candidate, raking in $767,000, including $200,000 he lent his campaign.
Olson has raised $78,000 this cycle and started the race with $72,000 left over from a previous campaign.
Sears and Kennedy have each raised $278,000. They are both running publicly financed campaigns, with money from the Clean Elections Commission.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: Clean Energy For A Healthy Arizona, a Steyer-backed organization pushing the clean-energy ballot initiative, has spent $113,000 each in support of Kennedy and Sears.
The Future We Want has spent $7,000 in support of the two Democrats and an equal amount against the two Republicans.
State treasurer: Yee is ahead with personal loan
THE RACE: Republican Kimberly Yee faces Democrat Mark Manoil in the race to be the state’s top accountant. Yee, RPhoenix, is the majority leader in the Arizona Senate. Manoil is a property tax lawyer.
WHO’S AHEAD: Yee has raised $487,000, including $200,000 her husband lent her campaign late last year. She also started the cycle with $128,000 left over from other campaigns.
Manoil has raised $290,000. He is running a publicly financed campaign, so the vast majority of his money came from the Clean Elections Commission.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: There has been no reported outside spending.
Mine inspector: Democrat has cash edge in sleeper race
CANDIDATES: Republican incumbent Joe Hart faces a challenge from Democrat Bill Pierce. The position oversees the operation and safety of all the state’s mines. Hart has held the office since 2006. Pierce is an engineer.
WHO’S AHEAD: Pierce has far more money than the incumbent. He has raised $139,000, but almost all of that money came from the Clean Elections Commission because he’s running a publicly financed campaign.
Hart has raised $25,000, including $1,300 he lent his campaign. He hasn’t reported raising any money since June.
OUTSIDE SPENDING: There has been no reported outside spending.