Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2nd District Candidate Ranking: Post 4Q FEC

The Muskogee Politico's 2nd District Candidate Ranking
Post-4th Quarter FEC Reports

After the close of the 2009 3rd Quarter FEC reports, I issued my first 2nd District Candidate Ranking. The ranking is to be updated periodically. After the filing of the recent 4th Quarter reports, the ranking needed to be brought back up-to-date. None of this is to be construed as an endorsement of a specific candidate by this blog, merely my view of the race as it currently stands.

And now, without further ado, I present the latest installment of the 2nd District Candidate Ranking from the Muskogee Politico.

1. Howard Houchen (prev. 1st)

I still view Howard Houchen as the "frontrunner" among the current Republican candidates.

The latest FEC reports show that Houchen has raised $19,416 from individuals and $250 from PACs (more on that), and $5,866 in in-kind candidate contributions. He currently has $3,541 cash on hand. Houchen has been in the race the longest, having first announced in early May.

Houchen is a very aggressive and enthusiastic candidate, which can, has, and will be a drawback for some voters, while appealing to others. The Ron Paul/libertarian community seems to be rallying around Houchen, which again, may alienate some people.

Houchen does appear to have a weakness for joining any and every group out there that asks him to (such as Bring Home the Politicians, which aims to hold Congress from every state capitol via teleconference, as opposed to physically meeting in Washington at the Capitol), and I have noticed some strange stuff on his ethics reports - not illegal goings-on, per se, but just odd things (for instance, a PAC contribution was listed under 'Party Contributions' instead of the PAC category*).

That said, Houchen is having more success in raising money, even though he is spending most of it. He has also run some radio ads, and continues to nab interviews on various radio talk shows across Oklahoma. At this point in the game, advantage still Houchen.

* - UPDATE: the Houchen campaign contacted us, and said that the problem was on the FEC side of things, and that they have contacted the FEC numerous times to get it reported correctly.

2. Daniel Edmonds (prev. 2nd)

Daniel Edmonds still remains in second place.

Edmonds has grown as a candidate, and continues to improve as the campaign progresses. While all the candidates hold the same basic positions, Edmonds seems to be the candidate that can have the broadest appeal.

However, as with all of these candidates, Edmonds has difficulty raising funds. So far in the campaign, he has raised just $2,699 from individuals (and $9,382 in in-kind contributions from the candidate). At the close of 2009, he reported $2,707 cash on hand.

Despite his lower fundraising totals, Edmonds led the way in the opening months of the campaign when it came to campaign literature. His material was professional-looking and high quality, while the other candidates' fliers were not as profession. He clearly has a better understanding than the other candidates of what political literature should entail.

If Edmonds wants to jump into the lead, and break away from the pack, he will need to start showing much better fundraising reports.

3. Charles Thompson (prev. 4th)

Charles Thompson has moved up in our ranking, the only change so far. Thompson put his toe in the water back in June, dropped out a week later, and decided to get back in sometime in early September.

Thompson still hasn't officially filed his candidacy with the FEC, which means that he must not have raised or spent $5,000. He must be nearing that level, though, as he has attended meetings and parades across the district and launched a website.

He hasn't been in the race long enough to attract much support, but he does seem to be gaining volunteers at a faster pace than the other candidates. he does have a few ideas that are a little loony, such as this ill-advised one on constituent contact.

If Thompson can start to raise money (and file with the FEC, like he needs to do soon), he might begin to impact the race on a greater level.

4. Dan Arnett
(prev. 3rd)

Dan Arnett has dropped to fourth place in our ranking, although in some aspects he has had more influence on this race than anyone else.

I see Arnett as being one of the biggest reasons that Congressman Dan Boren actually held town halls. When Arnett announced, and held town hall meetings of his own in front of each of Boren's congressional offices, he essentially called Boren out, and received media coverage in the process.

Since Arnett has been attending law school in Philadelphia for much of the campaign, he has been unable to be on the campaign trail. This has hurt his candidacy, especially since two new candidates have joined the race, and been very visible at GOP meetings across the area. Arnett has since transferred to the University of Tulsa, which will help him to appear at more events in the 2nd District.

He has raised $5,909 (of which
$4,579 is in-kinds contributions) thus far in the campaign. However, Arnett is the only candidate in the race (including Dan Boren) that is carrying debt - to the tune of $6,467.*

Arnett is going to need to show that he can raise money and generate some grassroots interest if he wants to get anywhere this race.

* - UPDATE: "The Dan Arnett 2010 campaign decided, with the blessing and consultation of the Federal Election Commission, to list gas and travel expenditures from the start as loans to the campaign rather than In-Kind Donations. This allows the campaign committee to have a more realistic view of what has been donated as a service, such as an in-kind donation, and what may need to be repaid in the future, like a volunteer's fuel and toll booth costs. According to the FEC, loans may be, at the request of the lender, converted into a donation. Donations, however, may never be converted into a loan. This is why those costs are initially recorded as a loan. Simply stated, receipts collected from volunteers for legitimate travel expenses are recorded initially as a loan to the campaign but may, at the volunteer’s request be recorded as an in-kind donation. This is subject to the donation limits set by the FEC and a volunteer may not make an in-kind donation beyond what they could make as a standard donation. Win or lose, the campaign would like to keep track of costs that, under the FEC’s rules and regulations, are reimbursable so that donors and volunteers may have some of their money returned to them if there is a positive balance on the books at the end of the election process."


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