The flood of money expected to enter the primary race between Republicans Liz Cheney and Sen. Mike Enzi has arrived.
U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney has raised $1.027 million since she announced in July her bid to take on Sen. Mike Enzi for his seat in Congress.
Enzi has earned $847,646 in that same time period.
Released on Tuesday, the numbers will only get bigger and signal that both campaigns have a strong backing with 10 months remaining until voters go to the polls.
Both camps announced the numbers by Tuesday’s quarterly reporting deadline, even though the Federal Election Commission’s third-quarter reports weren’t released due to the partial federal government shutdown. Figures from political action committees and Super PACs supporting either candidate were not available.
For some insiders in Wyoming politics, the Cheney figure is staggering. The $1 million added to Cheney’s war chest is usually the total amount of a primary budget, not a single quarter worth of donations, said Wyoming-based political strategist Bill Novotny.
“It’s unprecedented in Wyoming politics,” he said.
Others were less impressed.
“I am not surprised,” said Joe Milczewski, a political strategist who worked on Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso’s 2008 campaign. “What will be interesting is the next million and the million after that for her.”
He said Barrasso raised $1.2 million in a five-month span in 2008.
Cheney’s fundraising ability proves that despite early campaign hurdles like the conflict over her in-state fishing license, low polling numbers and a negative television ad, she has the backing to raise big money.
Cheney has had about 10 meet-and-greets and fundraisers in Wyoming since she announced her bid, said Margaret Parry, campaign finance chairwoman for Cheney for Wyoming.
Cheney has also been reported of raising funds in Washington and New York.
“People love Liz. And if they have never met her and are sitting the fence, all I have to say is please talk to her,” Parry said. “Once they do they won’t be sitting the fence.”
Enzi now has $1,209,408 cash on hand. His campaign donations show that while he’s been dealing with the impasse in Washington, he’s also been able to raise money in-state and around the country. He received 900 contributions; 600 came from Wyoming.
Enzi is showing he has what it takes to withstand the flood of money going to Cheney, and now there’s a flood of money going to him, too, said Bill Cubin, founder of Wyoming’s Own, a political action committee supporting Enzi.
Cubin’s Super PAC was not obliged by FEC regulations to release any amount of donations today because it only formed in September. The PAC is independent of Enzi’s camp. They cannot communicate with one another, but the PAC is allowed to donate up to $5,000 to Enzi’s campaign.
For being a lawmaker who’s known to stay out of the spotlight, Enzi’s contributions are no shock either. He raised $3.4 million in his 2008 election.
“Diana and I have been humbled by the overwhelming support we have received from people across our great state,” Enzi said in a media release, referring to his wife. “Friends, old and new, have offered their help, advice and prayers. We are so proud to stand side-by-side with these great folks from every corner of Wyoming.”
Nearly 2,000 individual donors from every county in Wyoming and every state in the country contributed to the Cheney campaign.
“Since we launched our campaign on July 17, we have traveled over 11,000 miles across the state of Wyoming,” Cheney said in a media release. “The reception has been overwhelming and heartwarming.”
With the FEC out of operation due to the shutdown, pundits and media could not take a look at who was giving to the Cheney campaign. Novotny and others are waiting for the shutdown to end so they can get a look at whether money is coming from Wyoming or other parts of the country.
Now that both camps have money in the bank, watching how they spend it will make the race a veritable spectator sport for political scientists nationwide.
President Obama’s two campaigns and independent studies show that personal, face-to face campaign strategies are more effective than robocalls, yard signs, media ads and billboards, said Andre Garner, assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Wyoming.
“The campaign that runs the better ground game will have a better chance of winning,” he said.