updated 2:15 p.m., 7/22/2010
LANSING – Applications for gubernatorial public campaign funds provide an early indication of the breadth of financial support for the candidates from persons. The candidates are eligible for a two-to-one match from the State’s Public Campaign Fund for the first $100 from any individual contributor. Contributions from political action committees (PACs) are not eligible for the public match.
On this scale, U.S. Rep Pete Hoekstra has a wide advantage over his rivals for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Hoekstra has been certified eligible for $554,283 in public funds by the Bureau of Elections, and he has applied for an additional $151,362. He may be eligible for over $700,000 in public funds, based on 6,862 individual contributions.
Based on his most recent application for public funds, Oakland County Sherriff Mike Bouchard is currently eligible for no more than $361,000 in matching funds, based on 2,813 individual contributions . Attorney General Mike Cox has applied for $187,944, based on matches for 1,151 contributions, and state Sen. Tom George has applied for $162,420, matching contributions from 887 donors.
The fifth Republican candidate, Rick Snyder, is ineligible for public funds because his self-funding has exceeded $300,000. Candidates who give their campaigns more than that amount are ineligible for public funds.
In the Democratic primary, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has been declared eligible for $177,476 in public funds, matching 1,299 individual contributions to his campaign.
Speaker of the House Andy Dillon has not applied for public funds, which could indicate that his campaign will spend more than $2 million for the primary. Unless a candidate is facing a self-funding candidate, such as Snyder, he must limit his spending to $2 million if he accepts public funds. Alternatively, the fact that Dillon has not filed for matching funds could mean that he has not raised $75,000 in contributions of $100, or less, from individuals, the threshold for eligibility for public funds.
Due to the fact that the Legislature raided the Public Campaign Fund to balance the FY 2008 State budget, the candidates’ campaigns will not be paid the full amount for which they are eligible. Treasury officials say initial disbursements will be only 42 percent of what the candidates are eligible to receive.
Applications for public funds provide no clues as to the level of PAC support, or the gross amount of financial support from individuals. That will be revealed tomorrow, when the candidates file their first campaign finance reports since closing books on December 31, 2009. For Bernero and Dillon, tomorrow’s reports will be the first they have filed for their gubernatorial committees.