Republican Greg Jamison’s bid to unseat Democratic Mayor Mike Huether isn’t roaring out of the gate.
In his 2013 fundraising, reported yesterday, Jamison collected just $18,650. That’s three times less than Huether, who raised more than $51,000.
Neither man’s fundraising includes personal expenses. Huether spent more than $125,000 on his 2010 mayoral campaign but has yet to open his checkbook. So this fundraising gap solely reflects the candidates’ ability to raise money from supporters.
First: Sioux Falls campaign finance limits function on an annual basis. So everyone who gave the $1,000 maximum to either candidate in 2013 can give $1,000 again in 2014. That means Huether has 29 wealthy people he can go back to this year for another $29,000, people who are already sold on his candidacy. Jamison has only 10.
Second, the fundraising shows Jamison’s incomplete success at unifying the Sioux Falls Republican Party behind him. Republicans have been highlighting Huether’s status as a Democrat to try to tie him to the national party’s brand, unpopular here in South Dakota. In 2012, Sioux Falls had 36,300 Mitt Romney voters and 31,700 Barack Obama voters, so the strategy makes sense. But there are far more than 10 regular Republican donors in Sioux Falls. There’s far more Republican donors than the 30 who gave Jamison any significant money at all.
In fact, many of those big GOP donors can be found on Huether’s campaign finance report, not Jamison’s. Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft gave Mitt Romney $9,000 in 2012; he gave Huether $1,000 in 2013. First Premier CEO Dana Dykhouse gave Romney $2,500 and Huether $1,000. Kirby Financial president Dan Kirby gave Romney $2,500 and Heuther $1,000. Attorney Doug Hajek, husband of Republican state Rep. Anne Hajek, gave $1,000 to both Romney and Huether.
These type of people not only have lots of money to give to campaigns, they’re also generally well-known and respected, and can be influencers to bring other people on board with their favored candidates. For whatever reason — liking Huether’s work as mayor, personal friendship with him, trying to curry favor with the current administration — they’re backing Huether.
Jamison’s failure (to date, at least) to wrap up the GOP donor class is a bad sign for his hopes of unifying Republicans in the April election.
Remember, unlike federal or state races, the Sioux Falls mayoral race is officially nonpartisan. Jamison won’t have an “R” next to his name on the ballot, nor Huether a “D.” Uniting a political party will take conscious work on Jamison’s part. If he can’t circle the Republican wagons, his route to victory becomes a lot harder, requiring peeling off lots of Democrats and left-leaning voters from Huether. That’s not impossible. But attracting those disaffected Democrats is at cross-purposes with telling Republicans that Huether is a dastardly Obama supporter. There are a lot of routes to 50.1 percent in Sioux Falls, but you can’t take all of them at once.
(And all of this is overlooking the simple fact that Huether, with a greater ability to self-fund, is starting the home stretch of the campaign with a $30,000 head start over Jamison.)