First quarter fundraising reports for statewide races show wide gulfs are developing between candidates. Photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus
The race for Arizona governor appears to be solidifying around three candidates who are each raising a lot of money, but also burning through it at a fast rate.
Karrin Taylor Robson, the developer and former university regent, once again showed she is willing to spend whatever it takes to replace Doug Ducey at the ballot, giving her campaign $2 million during the first three months of 2022. Since entering the race last year, she has kicked in close to $4 million to be the next governor. She raised about $700,000 from other people, bringing her quarterly total to $2.7 million.
But Robson spent her campaign cash just as quickly as she raised it, mostly on TV ads. According to some recent polling, it seems to be working: Robson has closed the gap between her and frontrunner Kari Lake, the former local television news anchor. Robson spent 94% of what she’s brought in since she started fundraising and is left with roughly $300,000 in her war chest heading into the second quarter.
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While that would generally be a warning sign about a campaign’s ability to remain competitive, it isn’t for Robson because she is widely expected to spend whatever she needs of her own money to win the election.
Lake, on the other hand, is continuing to raise a lot of small dollar contributions. She raised close to $1 million from individuals — far more than any other candidate in the field — and spent $640,000 this quarter. Lake still is getting a lot of support from small donors to the tune of $90 on average. The bulk of Lake’s spending has been on campaign consultants, with little on advertising.
She has also continued to spend regularly on eating meals at restaurants, her reports show. Lake reported 89 campaign-funded meals in the 90-day quarter that cost a total of more than $5,000. She spent close to $10,000 on meals in 2021, which was exponentially more than her opponents.
Lake has about $700,000 left on hand.
Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs raised more in this quarter than her two primary opponents combined. Hobbs, the secretary of state, brought in roughly $750,000 with an average contribution of $128. She also spent half a million dollars this quarter, but has $1.6 million in her war chest in a primary she is expected to handily win.
Her Democratic opponents Marco Lopez, former Mayor of Nogales, and Aaron Lieberman, a former state representative, raised $455,000 and $275,000, respectively.(Lopez’s numbers were boosted by a $150,000 loan he made to his campaign.) Lopez has burned through 70% of his cash, the most of the Democrats. Lieberman is spending modestly, but is viewed as third in that race even with scandals from both Hobbs and Lopez.
Matt Salmon, a former congressman and the 2002 Republican nominee for governor, and Steve Gaynor, a businessman and the 2018 GOP candidate for secretary of state, rounded out the Republican field. Salmon raised $470,000 and has slightly more on hand than Lake at $703,000, but has struggled to find traction among voters. The only noticeable ad to help his campaign came from a PAC formed to back his campaign, Arizona’s Best, attacking Lake for her former support of Barack Obama.
Gaynor gave his campaign $5 million in 2021, but did little with it in the first quarter of this year. He only raised $35,000 from individuals and didn’t put in any more of his own money. He still has $4 million in his war chest, but is barely showing up in recent polling, despite being outspent only by Robson.
Secretary of state
In the race to replace Hobbs as secretary of state, fundraising efforts for the first quarter showed clearly who are the haves and the have nots.
Mark Finchem, the Donald Trump-endorsed election denier and state lawmaker, led the way, raising $277,000 (putting him close to $1 million overall) with $587,000 left on hand.
That’s good for second in the race behind political newcomer Beau Lane, a retired ad executive who has yet to spend money on advertisements to boost his name identification. Lane raised $144,000 for the quarter and has more than $600,000 on hand in a race that still appears to be wide open. Lane shares political consultants with Robson — many are veterans of Ducey’s campaign — which could bode well for the first-time candidate. Recent polling found Finchem leading in the contest, but with just 13% of the Republican vote; more than 70% of likely voters surveyed were undecided.
Meanwhile, the two other GOP candidates raised paltry amounts. Shawnna Bolick, a state legislator who last year tried to change the law to allow legislators to overturn voters’ choice for president, raised just $55,000.
And state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita raised a mere $11,000 in three months.
On the Democratic side, Reginald Bolding raised $160,000, edging out the $139,000 that former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes raised. Bolding has $181,000 remaining after the quarter, while Fontes has $81,000. (Fontes in the first quarter repaid a $45,000 loan he made to his campaign in 2021.)
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