Originally Published: August 22, 2018 8:38 p.m.
Updated as of Thursday, August 23, 2018 6:50 AM
PHOENIX — The Democrats don’t even have a gubernatorial candidate yet.
But that hasn’t kept the Republican Governors Association from already spending more than $9.2 million to ensure that Doug Ducey gets another four-year term, virtually all of that listed by the organization as earmarked for commercials to attack David Garcia.
In fact, the latest campaign filings show that Steve Farley isn’t even on the organization’s radar, though Kelly Fryer did register a blip with $12,950 to produce a commercial against her.
And as to pro-Ducey efforts? Those amount to less than $32,000.
RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said his organization normally doesn’t talk about how it spends its money, dollars generated through business contributions to the national organization. But he did allow that much of it was based in Garcia’s standing as frontrunner among the Democrat contenders in the polls.
The new spending on the incumbent’s behalf is on top of $1.7 million the governor’s own campaign committee already has spent. And he has a nice cushion, with $3.2 million in the bank.
Meanwhile his Republican foe Ken Bennett continued to struggle Tuesday to get the last of the 4,000 $5 donations that would qualify him for public funding for his primary bid.
The deadline to collect those was at midnight Tuesday night. And Bennett said he was hopeful to get in under the wire.
But even if he does qualify, that would entitle him to just $839,704. And he would have less than a week to use it up to boost his chances of upsetting Ducey’s bid to once again become the party’s nominee.
To date, Bennett’s campaign has largely been limited to social media and press releases.
Some of those postings criticize the incumbent for his school safety proposal to allow judges to temporarily lock up and take guns from people who are considered a danger. Bennett, instead, said he would put more armed personnel into schools.
And the balance have been his efforts to get those $5 donations before the deadline.
Bennett said, however, even if he doesn’t get the public funding he still “absolutely’’ remains a viable candidate in Tuesday’s primary.
On the Democrat side, Garcia has reported collecting slightly more than $1 million, with $881,000 in expenses.
Yet Farley, trailing him in polls, actually has spent more in his bid for the nomination, burning through most of the $1.3 million collected, leaving him $94,000 in the bank.
Fryer, operating on a relative shoestring, has taken in about $176,000 and spent about $157,000.
Still, a new statewide poll shows Garcia cannot presume he will be the victor, even if the RGA is presuming him as such.
Pollster Mike Noble of OH Predictive Insights said the survey, conducted last week, found Garcia the favorite of 40 percent of those asked. That compares with 25 percent who said they support Farley, with Fryer far behind at 7 percent.
But Noble said more than a quarter of the 589 people questioned said they had yet to make up their mind. And he found one specifically bright note for Farley, showing him leading Garcia in Pima County by 14 points.
Slightly further down on the ballot, incumbent Secretary of State Michele Reagan continues to be outspent by Republican primary foe Steve Gaynor.
Reagan has collected about $652,000 so far against more than $493,000 in expenses. But she also has managed to repay herself nearly $17,000 of the $70,000 of her own cash that she put up.
Gaynor, however, appears going in the opposite direction.
He put another $500,000 of his own cash into his bid to become the GOP nominee. That’s on top of the $1 million Gaynor had used to start his campaign.
Less than $11,000 has come from outside sources.
The five-way GOP race for state school superintendent has incumbent Diane Douglas down near the bottom of the donation barrel, with less than $24,000. Only Tracy Livingston has raised less at about $23,000.
The other three Republicans are relying in some form on loans to get them nominated, lead by Frank Riggs who borrowed $65,200 of the $108,000 he has raised. Jonathan Gelbart listed a $25,000 loan as part of his nearly $103,000 in donations, with a $6,000 loan financing the $35,000 bid by Bob Branch to get elected.
On the Democrat side of the ballot, David Schapira and Kathy Hoffman are pretty much evenly matched with the nearly $109,000 each is getting in public funds.
In the Republic race for Arizona Corporation Commission, incumbent Tom Forese leads all five contenders for the two seats, with nearly $597,000 in donations, including $141,000 of his own money. Fellow incumbent Justin Olson is far behind with just $68,000 in contributions.
Challenger Rodney Glassman reports more than $551,000 in donations, including $100,000 of his own cash, with Eric Sloan listing less than $24,000 in income. The fifth candidate, Jim O’Connor, is running with nearly $109,000 in public money plus another $33,000 in cash he was allowed to raise on his own.
On the Democrat side, Bill Mundell, Sandra Kennedy and Kiana Sears all qualified for that $109,000 in public funding.
Kimberly Yee, hoping to be the Republican nominee for treasurer, listed $574,000 in donations, including $325,000 owed on a loan to the campaign from Nelson Mar. That far overwhelms the $8,375 collected by Jo Ann Sabbagh which includes $1,800 of her own money.