October 17, 2012

As Election Approaches, GOP Retains Fundraising Advantage in Local Congressional Race

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In a race that could decide which party controls the House of Representatives,  Republican incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y. 29) continues to outraise Nathan Shinagawa ’05 M.A. ’09, though the gap may have narrowed recently, according to financial disclosures released Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission.

As of Sept. 29, Reed has raised a total of $1.87 million to Shinagawa’s $639,019. Reed’s largest source of donations continues to be political action committees, which comprise 54.6 percent of all contributions to his campaign.

Though the proportion of PAC money received by Shinagawa’s has increased, from 8.6 percent to 12.6 percent, his largest source of contributions continues to be individuals donating more than $200, which account for 60.4 percent of his haul.

These numbers, however, do not tell the entire story of the campaign. Reed, as the incumbent, has been fundraising since his election in 2010. The $1.87 million figure therefore takes into account all funds his campaign has raised since Dec. 31, 2010.Shinagawa began his campaign in March 2012. In the most recent quarter, Reed outraised Shinagawa by just more than $100,000, with Reed bringing in $424,025 and Shinagawa $319,379, according to FEC disclosures.This development may help Shinagawa receive financial support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has labeled the election an “emerging race” — one in which a Democratic candidate has made the election increasingly competitive. According to Shinagawa, his campaign has raised “a significant amount more” than other emerging races.Additionally, comparing the large percentage of contributions to Shinagawa that come from individual donations — 84.1 percent of his total — to Reed’s 39.2 percent may not capture the full complexity of the race’s fundraising. Shinagawa has raised $537,590 from individuals, while Reed’s $734,058 from individuals is more than Shinagawa has raised altogether. Shinagawa only surpasses Reed in  donations under $200, which comprise 23.7 percent of his total with $151,307 raised, compared to Reed, who is at 3.7 percent with $68,953 for the same threshold.In terms of spending, Reed leads by a significant margin. In the past quarter, Reed has spent $447,141 on what the FEC terms “operating expenditures.” This figure is almost tiwce the $241,540 Shinagawa has spent.Not all of Reed’s spending, however, has been within the district. Reed has given significant amounts of money to other political campaigns as well. In June, for instance, his campaign donated $8,000 to five different congressional campaigns. Of them, only one was a New York candidate; the other donations were made to candidates in West Virginia, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Arizona, according to FEC documents. Such transfers between candidates are not rare. Shinagawa, indeed, has received two: $1,000 from Friends of Maurice Hinchey and $1,000 from Mike Honda for Congressional Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) is the retiring incumbent representative for the defunct N.Y. 22nd District, which included Ithaca before redistricting. Rep. Mike Honda is from California.Reed is aided in spending by the substantial war chest he had amassed by June. He began this quarter with $833,729 on hand and, despite $424,000 in spending, still has $810,114 on hand going into the general election. Shinagawa ended the quarter with $177,974 in cash on hand.Such spending has led to media efforts by both campaigns that depict starkly different views.An ad on Shinagawa’s campaign website, for example, portrays the race as a referendum on “rebuilding the middle class” and making the economy “work for everyone” — playing upon accusations that Tom Reed would cut taxes for the wealthy and reward companies that ship American jobs overseas. The ad is shot in black and white until Shinagawa appears, endorsing the message and saying that he “choose[s] the middle class.”An ad on Reed’s website strikes a noticeably different tone, opening with a shot of Reed and his family. Reed narrates the ad, during which he tells viewers that, “as a husband and father, I worry about the future for your kids and mine,” because, he says, “factories are closing [and] unemployment continues at record levels.” Reed’s prescription for the future is less regulation, tackling the national debt and imposing no new taxes.

Original Author: Matthew Rosenspire