Pony Up

There’s at least one good thing about this year’s unusually non-competitive elections:  at least the candidates aren’t hitting everybody up for campaign contributions. The landscape is littered with brokered elections.  

Tickets to fund-raisers for county elections usually cost between $50 and $95 (anything under $100 doesn’t have to be reported to the board of elections), with cash bar and finger food. Candidates will need every donor; a competitive county race can easily run to six figures.

Dave Clegg, Democratic candidate for district attorney, is offering contributors a range for his Friday (March 1) fundraiser at Ole Savannah in Kingston’s Rondout from 5:30 to 7.

A so-called “friend” can mix and mingle for fifty bucks, “allies” for $150, “heroes” for $300. How much for a “passing acquaintance?” Bet the personable Woodstock trial attorney will have a lot more friends than heroes in the house.

Meanwhile, Republican rival Mike Kavanagh has announced a fundraiser for March 28 from 6 to 8 at Wiltwyck Club in the town of Ulster. No word yet on ticket prices; figure the usual range. Kavanagh had better have lots of “allies,” the numbers, at this point, being seriously against him. That said, elections, like football games, are not won on paper.

Back in the day, a woman’s organization called Emily’s List was formed to help first-time candidates, generally liberal Democrats, get started.  I asked a Washington spokeswoman what the named stood for, thinking it might be some obscure suffragette. “It’s an acronym,” she said, “meaning ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast,’ it rises.”

Political pros (and pundits) pay close attention to fundraising, which speaks to a candidate’s organization, outreach and popularity. Lacking any of those elements renders electoral success problematical.