CASPER, Wyo. — Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican seeking re-election, hasn’t contributed a penny of his own money to his campaign this year, a striking difference from four years ago, when he funded $1.2 million of a nearly $2 million campaign, new records show.
Midnight Tuesday was the deadline for statewide candidates to submit reports showing contributions from Jan. 1 through Aug. 5, ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The public can view the reports at www.wycampaignfinance.gov.
Mead raised the most of the three Republicans and one Democrat contending for governor, with $413,640.38 in contributions.
Wyoming Republican secretary of state candidate Ed Murray, of Cheyenne, raised the most of his opponents, mostly through $361,500 in loans he gave to his campaign.
Mead hasn’t contributed any personal funds to his gubernatorial campaign because he hasn’t needed to, said his campaign manager, Gale Geringer.
“There’s been tremendous support from people all over the state,” she said. “It’s certainly been sufficient to meet the need.”
Mead, who is seeking his second term, raked in $57,738.17 from federal political action committees, such as $5,000 each from the Arch Coal PAC, the Pacificorp/MidAmerican PAC and the Marathon Oil Employees PAC.
Arch Coal owns mines in Wyoming. Pacificorp owns power plants. Marathon has oil and gas production operations throughout the state.
The individuals who wrote checks for Mead include University of Wyoming lobbyist Chris Boswell, who contributed $1,000; Liz Cheney, former U.S. Senate candidate and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who gave $500; House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, who gave $500; GOP secretary of state candidate Clark Stith, who gave $1,000; current Secretary of State Max Maxfield, who gave $500; and Natrona County Commission Chairman Forest Chadwick, who gave $300.
“I was impressed,” said Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, a longtime political observer. “It seems like he got a pretty decent campaign off the ground through PACs and through individuals.”
Zwonitzer isn’t entirely surprised by Mead’s decision not to self-fund at this point. Mead had said he wasn’t planning to spend the big bucks this year that he did for his first election.
“There’s quite an extensive list of PACs who give to you when you’re governor and expected to win,” Zwonitzer said.
Wyoming superintendent of public instruction and GOP gubernatorial candidate Cindy Hill raised $113,860.18, according to records. Since the report’s Aug. 5 cutoff, Hill said she’s raised another $42,660.60.
Hill’s husband, Drake Hill, loaned the campaign $66,500.
“Hill has asked first of herself and her husband before asking of others,” Hill said in a statement Tuesday.
Hill hasn’t taken any contributions from unions or PACs, the statement said.
Cheyenne physician, business owner and rancher Taylor Haynes raised $164,864.77. He wrote a $1,100 check to his campaign in May and received $1,000 from the WYWatch PAC, a conservative Christian organization that opposes abortion and gay marriage.
“The campaign, as you can see, is funded by donations,” he said. “They’re small, and they’re important. It’s kind of the people’s campaign.”
Democratic candidate Pete Gosar, who won’t have an opponent until the Nov. 4 general election, raised $56,040, $20,000 of which came from himself. He will have more of a need to raise money for the general election, he said.
“As we get a competitor, then we will have an opportunity to contrast,” he said.
Secretary of state
A total of $658,071.68 has been raised thus far in the secretary of state’s race. That’s 24 times as much as what was raised before the 2010 GOP primary, when only one Republican was on the ballot: Max Maxfield, who had raised $27,493.97.
Maxfield is not running again. He decided to spend more time with his wife, opening the state’s No. 2 position.
With $405,245, Murray has almost as much money to work with as Mead.
In a statement Tuesday, the Cheyenne developer and entrepreneur, didn’t touch on his $361,500 self-financing. Instead he touted individual contributions, of which he said he received more than 200. More than 80 percent of the donations are from Wyomingites, he said.
“Unlike the career politicians in the race, I did not have large fundraising lists, a government union in my back pocket or a Rolodex of political favors at my disposal,” he said.
The large amount of money Murray has fences out smaller candidates, said GOP candidate Pete Illoway, who raised $71,025, including a $40,000 loan he made to his campaign.
Illoway is a businessman and a former lawmaker who was chairman of a committee that oversaw campaign finance rules in Wyoming.
“All I’m saying is large amounts of money that are spent in this race are really fencing the smaller person out who may want to run,” he said. “My one opponent put in $360,000 of his own money. Not many people can do that. I’m glad he’s putting money back into circulation, so to speak, but I think it might fence people out.”
Replied Murray: “It’s shameful for an opponent who used to work for the LEAD’s economic development board and who used to encourage and compliment my efforts in building our community and creating hundreds of jobs that he would now criticize me for spending my hard-earned money in a manner that I believe can share my visions for the prosperity for future generations in Wyoming.”
GOP candidate Ed Buchanan, a Torrington attorney and former speaker of the House, raised $94,803.59. Through contributions and loans, Buchanan gave his campaign $51,600, records show.
Clark Stith, a Rock Springs attorney and city councilman, raised $86,998.09. He loaned his campaign $65,000 and gave his campaign $6,437.54, records show.
Stith thinks the amount of money raised and spent by the candidates is enough to help Wyoming voters distinguish among them. Stith wants voters to know that he is not the status quo, he said.
Zwontizer, the representative from Cheyenne, was briefly a secretary of state candidate before dropping out to run for re-election in House District 43.
Because the campaign finance deadline is 10 days before the primary, Zwonitzer believes lots more money will be raised in the secretary of state race. Candidates may need money for television and newspaper ads, mailings and signs.