HARTFORD, CT — For months we watched the Republican gubernatorial candidates raise money or write themselves checks, but on Wednesday it was finally time to see how the candidates have been spending their money or, in the case of one candidate, racking up some personal debt.
Bob Stefanowski, the Republican from Madison who skipped the convention and petitioned his way onto the primary ballot, has been on TV longer than any of the other candidates.
His latest financial filing with the State Elections Enforcement Commission shows he’s racked up $1.75 million in debt. The candidate loaned his campaign $1.25 million, so most of the money he owes to himself. Stefanowski, an investment banker from Madison, spent $1.5 million, most of it during the last quarter, and has $646,000 in cash on hand heading into the primary.
In launching his campaign he paid $75,000 to have Arthur Laffer come up with an economic plan, held one press conference in December 2017, and has not participated in any debates so far. However, he is currently scheduled to participate in a July 12 radio debate, according to his campaign manager Patrick Trueman.
He’s hired nearly a dozen political consultants and has spent more than $796,789 with MacLaughlin & Associates of New York, which has done polling and television ads for Stefanowski. The company has done work for five sitting U.S. Senators and 19 sitting Congresspeople, Republican committees in several states, and Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia.
Stefanowski spent $11,550 on food and drinks to entertain Republican delegates at the convention even though he wasn’t participating at the event. Stefanowski also spent about $175,000 on his signature collection effort to get on the ballot.
David Stemerman, who closed up his hedge fund to run for governor, outspent Stefanowski. Stemerman loaned his campaign $10 million at the end of June and has outspent Stefanowski $3 million to $1.5 million.
Stemerman paid more than $772,000 to FlexPoint Media, an Ohio company that says it uses “omnichannel advertising” and a “data-driven approach” to media consumption of a targeted audience. He spent another $126,000 with Red October Productions, a digital media production company in Maryland.
He also spent about $250,000 with Lincoln Strategy Group to help him get on the ballot through a petition drive.
Targeted Strategies, the consulting firm of Stemerman’s campaign manager, Patrick Sweeney, is raking in $18,000 a month, according to the most recent report.
Of the Republican candidates using the clean election system, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton spent about $225,000 of the $1.35 million public grant on television ads. The other $100,000 he’s spent so far has gone to consultants, a poll, opposition research, and printed materials.
Then there’s Tim Herbst, the other Republican candidate who is grudgingly using the clean election system.
Herbst has spent, according to his report, about $351,000, including $154,000 in the recent quarter. Some of it has gone to his first television ad and $24,000 has been spent on polling. He has about $1.2 million left moving into the last five weeks of the primary campaign.
Steve Obsitnik, the Westport entrepreneur and former Navy officer, has about $46,000 left of the more than $250,000 he raised. He has yet to qualify for the $1.35 million in state funds and the State Elections Enforcement Commission has announced that it is investigating his campaign and an independent expenditure group that formed to support his candidacy. The SEEC will meet again tomorrow to consider Obsitnik’s application.
On the Democratic side, Ned Lamont, who self-funded his 2010 run for governor, is not participating in the clean election system.
Lamont has spent about $874,000 on his campaign to date and has about $80,000 in cash on hand.
The campaign spent $104,111 with Putnam Partners on television for an ad that launches today. The same company is responsible for a viral video ad of a candidate in Kentucky. Since the report filed Tuesday night only goes through June 30, it’s likely the next report will account for the bulk of the television and other media purchases. The campaign has also spent about $82,000 with the polling firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in Washington, D.C.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who is ineligible for the clean election system because he’s a convicted felon, reported having about $316,000 in cash on hand going into the final five weeks of the primary campaign.
Ganim, who can’t write himself a check like Lamont, has called on his Democratic primary opponent to limit his spending to $1 million.
“Unlike Ned Lamont, we don’t have a multi-million dollar trust fund, but the support of grassroots Democrats who want a candidate who will work to build a new Connecticut economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few,” Ganim, who petitioned his way onto the primary ballot, said.
On Tuesday, Lamont, the endorsed candidate, said he’s not going to fight with one arm tied behind his back.
“The Republicans participating in public financing are spending more than that and all those guns are aimed at Ned Lamont,” Lamont said. “So I’m going to be standing up ready to fight. The general election has already begun.”