INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb's fundraising for the second half of 2019 dwarfed his Democratic opponents – even if you add all of their donations together.
Campaign finance reports filed Wednesday show Holcomb easily outpaced his opponents, bringing in $1.9 million in the most recent period and ending the year with $7.2 million on hand.
“Hoosiers are donating their time, talent and resources to help Governor Holcomb and Lt. Governor (Suzanne) Crouch get reelected in November, and this new fundraising record demonstrates the strength of our campaign and the enthusiasm for the Republican ticket,” said Kyle Hupfer, Eric Holcomb for Indiana campaign manager. “It's clear that Hoosiers want the Holcomb-Crouch team to keep Putting People First for the next four years.”
The three Democratic gubernatorial candidates raised just $325,000 together.
“Contested primaries can give donors an excuse to not give early. This might explain small fundraising totals,” said Andrew Downs, head of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne
The top fundraiser on the Democratic side was former state health commissioner Dr. Woody Myers. He brought in $180,000 but spent almost all of it. He ended the year with less than $1,900 and owes himself $62,000.
His campaign touted his grassroots approach, and said he has recently hired the fundraising consultant who helped propel Democrat Andy Beshear to victory in the Kentucky governor's race.
“We know that we are the underdog in this race, ... yet I still made a conscious decision not to solicit donations from larger Indiana donors until after the municipal elections were over in November 2019 to ensure local Democrats around the state had the money they needed for success,” Myers said. “That's what real leaders do, they put the collective good ahead of their own agenda.”
The campaign plans to submit petition signatures to get on the ballot and is opening a new campaign headquarters soon in Indianapolis.
Tech entrepreneur Josh Owens raised $84,000 and has $16,000 on hand.
“As a newcomer to politics, I'm encouraged by the hundreds of grassroots, Hoosier donors who have given our campaign an average of $27.70,” Owens said. “We've been implementing our plan to, first, introduce our campaign to voters; second, build a statewide network of support by qualifying for the ballot; and, third, moving to aggressively fundraise.”
He didn't enter the race until September, meaning he was a few months behind in fundraising for the period that began in July.
Ironically the Democratic candidate with the most cash on hand just dropped out – state Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary. He had raised $61,000 but announced last week he would focus instead on retaining his Senate seat. He has $30,000 left.
At the time he said “unfortunately politics today require way too much of a candidate's time being spent on the phone chasing dollars. Fixing our systems of elections will take the work of all of us.”
Downs said “being out-raised 10+ to 1 is not a good sign for the leading Democratic fundraiser.”
He noted there have been a number of financially competitive races in Indiana over the last few years – including John Gregg for governor; Evan Bayh for U.S. Senate; and Courtney Tritch for Congress.
“There were expectations those donations could lead to victories. ... It is possible donors have decided to limit their activity until they have a sense the contribution will make a meaningful difference,” Downs said.