If Mayor Joe Ganim’s going to compete for public campaign funds for statewide office in 2018, he’ll need to step up his game. He’ll also need a judge to order the state elections enforcement watchdog to allow him participation in the voluntary Citizens Election Program. In his first quarter raising money in an exploratory committee Ganim reports raising $36,000, far behind potential candidates for governor. See finance report here.
To compare, Bridgeport attorney Chris Mattei raised $118,344 from more than 1,000 individual donations during the same quarter in an exploratory committee for governor.
So far Ganim’s fundraising operation is positioning to qualify for public dollars, despite the State Elections Enforcement Commission ruling he cannot participate in the program due to his 2003 conviction on federal corruption charges. Ganim has pledged a court battle, citing constitutional issues.
If Ganim is rebuffed by a court and presses on with his gubernatorial campaign through a candidate committee he’ll be forced to raise it the old-fashioned way that allows a $3,500 personal maximum contribution. See contribution limits and restriction here.
Gubernatorial candidates who qualify for public financing will have about $1.4 million to spend in a primary between $250,000 raised in dollar amounts of $100 and less coupled with the public grant. For the general election it’s more than $6 million. Getting there for most candidates is beastly difficult.
Ganim showed considerable fundraising strength months ago banking nearly $200,000 for his 2019 mayoral reelection on one night backed by many personal contributions of $1,000 allowed in a municipal cycle. There’s no public financing on a local level. He then segued to his statewide ambition which is a different animal raising small dollar amounts to qualify for public financing.
Ganim has other fundraising events planned for statewide office, but if he’s going to be a serious player he’ll need to show much more discipline building a campaign infrastructure to raise small dollar amounts. That assumes he’s successful if he files a court action to qualify for public financing. Otherwise his only real option is large dollar amounts where the threat of dark money interests seeps in.
Ganim’s latest report is filled with the usual suspect contributors such as city employees, contractors and lawyers. An exploratory committee can accept up to a $375 personal contribution that can be leveraged to develop a campaign infrastructure. Ganim eschewed combining the $375 contribution strategy in favor of small donations of $100 and less at a Testo’s Restaurant event a few weeks ago.
He may be forced to go back to the well of those small donors if his legal quest for public dollars is unsuccessful.
Ganim has been moving around the state schmoozing party insiders who will be named delegates to the Democratic convention in May 2018. Ganim will need 15 percent of the delegate support to get his name on an August 2018 primary ballot. The field of candidates is still a work in progress with no clear-cut front runner in either the Democratic or Republican side.
Governor Dan Malloy is not seeking reelection.