MA-5 money primary: Koutoujian way out in front

The results are in from the third-quarter fundraising derby in the race to replace Ed Markey in the House, and they show that Peter Koutoujian raised over $200,000 more than his nearest competitor (Katherine Clark) over the last three months, with the other three candidates further back.  The amounts raised last quarter fall in the same order as current cash on hand. Here are the numbers:

$ raised 7/1-9/30 Cash on hand
Koutoujian 608,080 690,290
Clark 373,747 393,605
Sciortino 265,712 285,032
Brownsberger 213,794 238,979
Spilka 207,341 132,360

Also worth noting is the fact that only one candidate is self-funding to any significant extent: Katherine Clark lent her committee $250,000 sometime during the past quarter, so well over half of her cash on hand comes from her own pocket (note, however, that the fundraising numbers listed above don’t include loans).

The linked reports include expenditure numbers too, so one can get a sense of the “burn rate” for each candidate.  Very briefly, it appears that all the candidates are spending money roughly as fast as it comes in (and, for Clark, that includes the loan) – except for Koutoujian, who spent only $211,000 last quarter while taking in nearly three times that amount.

I find these numbers to be fascinating.  According to the fundraising and cash-on-hand numbers, the race should be Koutoujian’s to lose.  And that may well be the case, though neither the available poll numbers nor the conversation at BMG seem to back that up.  But special elections are notoriously difficult to predict.  I think it’s fair to anticipate a low turnout on October 15, so whichever candidate can muster the best turnout operation on that day will win.  If Koutoujian is able to deploy his substantial resources to that end, he could well pull it off.


22 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Surprised by Spilka's Cash on Hand

    Everyone else ended the period with more on-hand than they raised. Did Spilka pre-buy a bunch of air time?

    And what about Clark’s expenditures? She loaned herself a quarter mil and has spent it already? If that was for the first-out-of-the-gate ad buy, that might make sense.

    Where are you finding the reports? The FEC site only has them through July.

    • From the FEC - click the links on the names.

      They’re all up there.

    • Also,

      all the expenditure detail is at the linked reports. Spilka’s big expenditures appear to be polling and internet advertising; Clark’s appear to be polling, direct mail, and TV ads.

      • Ah, very interesting

        Thanks – missed the links earlier.

        Some interesting details:
        - There is no primary/general breakdown in these reports. So we have no idea how much of this money is actually available to be spent by each campaign before October 15th.
        - Clark spent $130k on TV before the filing and would only have $143k on-hand without her loan. The loan makes strategic messaging sense to make sure the story isn’t “Clark running out of cash.”
        - What is Koutoujian’s strategy? Maybe he’s doing a massive ad buy in the last 2 weeks? Maybe a lot of the money is for the general election?
        - Sciortino spent ~$70k on TV before the filing. Also seems to be the only candidate spending on Google & Facebook ads. Worth it? Young and tech-savvy should be a strong demographic for him.
        - Brownsberger seems to be all-mail so far. Will he be on TV?
        - No new observations about Spilka. Anemic fundraising and spending to keep up. If she hopes to compete she’d better have a strong ground game.

        • What is he doing?

          Yeah, what is Koutoujian’s strategy? He is up on TV now, with what I think it a pretty bad ad. Decent substance, horrible style. Is he going to saturate the airwaves and mail in the next two weeks. Seems like it would be smarter to lay some groundwork earlier and then hammer at the end. With his name recognition and fundraising, there’s no way he shouldn’t be leading by a good margin now.

          It seems that waiting for the last two weeks to advertise is a risky move. And saving much at all for the primary makes no sense in this race and district.

          • groundwork

            The groundwork Peter has laid has been in voter contact across the district. As for waiting for the last two weeks to advertise, to me it makes the most sense because CD5 voters are finally starting to listen and be engaged in the race. I don’t know why the campaign strategy will be going forward, except for a fierce GOTV plan. I trust that Doug Rubin knows how to run a winning campaign.

          • Staff

            From what I can tell, Koutoujian has been spending his money on staff and field, which makes a lot of sense. I think he’s a very, very strong candidate.

            His mail is also really good. It’s not flashy, like other candidates. It’s basically bullet points neatly designed. It’s not garish — but it is simple and minimalist. It looks…townie. And I bet a lot of people like that. You look at his mail next to Clark’s or even Sciortino’s and you assume they have more money than he does. Clark’s mail looks DC, Koutoujian’s looks Woburn townie, Sciortino’s looks progressive upstart.

        • Primary/general

          Can’t remember where, but I saw a report somewhere saying that the vast majority of all candidates’ money is available to spend in the primary. Which certainly makes sense – nobody expects that the general is going to be much of a contest.

  2. Let's get to brass tax on the fundraising numbers. Brownsberger rejects all PAC and lobbyist donations

    So if Will Briwnsberger sold his soul like the others, his cash dollars would have popped like some of the others. Nobody else accepted Will’s challenge of foregoing the bribe money. In other words, Will’s money is clean.

    If we separated the PAC and lobbyist donations, it would be interesting to see how the numbers stacked up. Thank you Will for standing up to the powerful special interests, I hope the voters see this and elect you our next congressman.

    Didn’t Russ Feingold take a similar pledge that Will is doing?

    • Please note that this has not always been the case

      Brownsberger has in the past accepted lobbyist money if they were constituents. This is the first race where he has refused to accept any lobbyist money whatsoever.

      I like Will personally, but let’s not pretend that this is some longstanding principle of his.

      • Sco- so do you prefer the continuation of pols accepting PAC and lobbyist monies?

        Then vote for any of the other candidates.

        Congress has been controlled by specialists for the longest time, way before Citizens United, agree? The fundamental problems in congress don’t start with Citizens United. It starts with who we elect and what we expect of them.

        Corruption of the political process starts with the direct contributions from PAC’s and lobbyists. Those that accept these monies become dependent upon and even live off these funds by expensing their cars and expenses off their campaign accounts.

        So we have a choice. Brownsberger has decided not to accept PAC and lobbyist monies, thus not beholden to these “special interest groups”. All the others are on the take, so it’s up to us to choose. We can elect someone based on where their money is coming from.

        Study the flow of money in this campaign. If you do, Will Brownsberger is the clear choice, and you know it.

        • Believe me I know all the reasons to vote for Will.

          As I said, I know and like Will personally. I just bring it up because this stance is a recent development that someone more cynical than myself might think is taken in response to criticism over his position on Citizens United. After all, on the trail he seems to be insinuating that if everyone were as pure as he, Citzens United would be moot. Surely onecan’t object to letting people know that he used to accept lobbyist money.

    • The vast majority of all candidates' money

      is individual contributions (and Clark’s personal loan). PAC money is not playing a substantial part in anyone’s campaign – less than 10% for everyone except Spilka, for whom the number is a bit higher. The numbers are all in the reports, if you’re that interested.

  3. Koutoujian Fan

    As I said in the previous CD5 threat. This site has way underestimated Peter’s appeal to voters, both as a man and a politician. A few months back, I indicated on this site that Peter would be out next Congress Person. Though I am not privy to the inner workings of the campaign plan, I suspect, given the cash on hand, that in the next 11 days the Koutoujian campaign will pull out all of the campaign stops and win this race. I anticipate “shock and awe,” and I plan to be a big part of it. Very excited!!!

    • "This site has way underestimated Peter’s appeal to voters"

      You might be right about that. I’ve met Peter, and he’s a great guy – very easy to talk to. If he personally meets a lot of voters and spends his war chest well over the next 11 days, he could well win it.

    • Socialworker-I must say you have carpeted Waltham with many Koutoujian signs

      I love the “shock and awe” reference too.

    • And, another fan of Peter

      I like Peter. He’s running a very smart campaign, reflecting Doug Rubin’s involvement. Unlike the others, he hasn’t wasted money on polling. Instead, he has been conserving his resources for the final two weeks, when many voters will be making their decisions.

      Besides, Koutoujian is a good guy. I am excited that he will be my next Congressman.

  4. Support base in particular towns

    One way to read these reports is to see how many donors are coming from a particular town – and how many of those are among the politically active. The 2nd part of that requires knowledge of town politics. The two together that will give an indication of the strength of the candidate in the particular town.

    So here are some stats for the towns I had the patience to look at:

    Lexington donors: (my town)
    Brownsberger 48
    Clark 7
    Koutoujian 22
    Sciortino 28
    Spilka 0

    Arlington donors:
    Brownsberger 70
    Clark 18
    Koutoujian 19
    Sciortino 20
    Spilka 2

    Waltham donors:
    Brownsberger 4
    Clark 1
    Koutoujian 53
    Sciortino 0
    Spilka 0

    Watertown donors:
    Brownsberger 72
    Clark 1
    Koutoujian 33
    Sciortino 13
    Spilka 1

    Woburn donors:
    Brownsberger 0
    Clark 0
    Koutoujian 5
    Sciortino 0
    Spilka 0

    • Support base in particular towns (follow-up)

      Brownsberger 92
      Clark 63
      Koutoujian 25
      Sciortino 33
      Spilka 5

      Brownsberger 7
      Clark 1
      Koutoujian 3
      Sciortino 1
      Spilka 30

      Brownsberger 5
      Clark 3
      Koutoujian 5
      Sciortino 36
      Spilka 1

      Brownsberger 1
      Clark 9
      Koutoujian 3
      Sciortino 1
      Spilka 2

      Total individual donors:
      Brownsberger 949
      Clark 497
      Koutoujian 706
      Sciortino 463
      Spilka 267

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