Constitutional execs raised $7M in 2013

LANSING - Michigan's three constitutional executive officeholders raised $7 million in 2013, and they have raised $8.7 million so far this election cycle.

Governor Rick Snyder raised $5,126,488 in 2013, and he has raised $6.1 million for the election cycle. His fund balance at year-end stood just over $4 million.

Attorney General Bill Schuette raised $1,425,545 in 2013 to give him a fundraising total of $1,984,871 for the election cycle. His fund balance totaled just less than $1.4 million at year-end.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson raised $422,478 in 2013, $338,000 of which was loaned by her husband. Her fundraising total for the election cycle stands at $635,401. Her reported fund balance was $526,000.

At this point in the 2010 election cycle, Mr. Snyder had raised $3.3 million, mainly through self-funding, in his five-way Republican primary campaign. Mr. Schuette had raised $435,000 in a three-way contest for the AG nomination. Ms. Johnson did not file a statement of organization for her secretary of state committee until April 28, 2010.

The last time three incumbents were running for the three constitutional executive offices, in 2006, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm had raised $8 million at this point in the campaign; then-Attorney General Mike Cox had raised $1 million; and then-Secretary of State Terri Land had raised $628,000.

Gov. Rick Snyder is eschewing contributions from political action committees again this cycle, as he did in the 2010 campaign. However, interest group support can be seen through the employers of individual contributors. Employees of Blue Cross / Blue Shield are his leading supporters, at $109,081. His next leading supporters are the employees of CMS Energy, $81,301; DTE Energy, $72,000; and the partners and associates of the Honigman law firm, $51,400.

Attorney General Schuette's top financial supporters are the PAC, partners and associates of the Warner Norcross and Judd law firm, $47,900; the employees and PAC of Dow Chemical Company, $37,657; and the PAC and employees of Meijer, $37,500.

Secretary Johnson's leading financial supporter, after her husband, is the Auto Dealers of Michigan PAC, which has given her $23,000.

Democratic Challengers

Presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer raised $1,661,458 in 2013 and he ended the year with a fund balance of $1,050,000. Mr. Schauer has declared that he will apply for public funding from the taxpayer-supported state campaign fund.

He is eligible for up to $990,000 for the primary election that is earned by a 2-to-1 match from the State for up to $100 from each unique individual donor. The condition for receiving the matching funds is that the candidate must limit his campaign spending to $2 million for the primary. He will be eligible for an additional $1.125 million for the general election if he agrees to limit his spending for the general to $2 million.

Mr. Schauer's leading financial supporters so far include the PAC and employees of the Michigan Education Association, $35,120; the Michigan Laborers' Political League, $34,000; the Michigan State Utility Workers' Political League, $34,000; and Service Workers' International Union Local 79 PAC, $34,000.

Mark Totten is pursuing the Democratic Party nomination for attorney general. He reported raising $172,596 in 2013, and he ended the year with a fund balance of $128,000. Mr. Totten self-funded $64,700 of that total. His next biggest financial supporter was the United Food & Commercial Workers of America PAC, with $5,000.

Independent Spenders

Independent spenders are sure to have a large footprint in the 2014 constitutional executive campaigns, as they have in every statewide campaign since 2000. The Democratic Governors Association has placed a television ad buy that is estimated to be worth $1 million that introduces Mr. Schauer biographically and criticizes policies of Mr. Snyder. Although the DGA has established a PAC in Michigan, it is sponsoring the ad through its central organization, a 527 committee. As a 527 committee, the DGA files reports of its receipts and expenditures with the Internal Revenue Service, although those reports do not necessarily tie to state activities.

The DGA's current ad buy mirrors the support the Republican Governors Association provided to Gov. Snyder in his 2010 campaign. The RGA, which had received $5.2 million from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, spent $3.5 million for television ads critiquing Mr. Snyder's opponent, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, and celebrating Mr. Snyder's "plan." Mr. Snyder's own general election television advertising did not begin until three weeks before Election Day in 2010 and it amounted to half what the RGA spent on his behalf.

In addition, the state political parties are highly likely to finance substantial portions of the statewide campaigns through non-reporting administrative accounts that have a track record of sponsoring millions of dollars' worth of "issue" advertising. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network has documented $88 million of such television advertising since 2000.

Secretary of State Johnson's announced intent to conduct an administrative rules procedure to require disclosure of that activity was aborted in December when Gov. Snyder signed Senate Bill 661 into law as Public Act 252 of 2013.

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