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March 26, 2011

7

Beutler amassing, spending lots of campaign cash

by Deena Winter

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According to state campaign finance reports, Mayor Chris Beutler is amassing a tidy sum of money for the mayoral race — but he’s also spending quite a bit of it, even though he’s seen as a shoo-in for re-election.

Heading into 2011, Beutler had more than $100,000 in cash on hand, according to his report with the state Accountability & Disclosure Commission. By March 1, he’d spent more than $71,000 — including nearly $30,000 on polling to a Washington, D.C.,-based company in January and February. I keep hearing reports of people being polled about city races; I wonder if they’re polling every month?

Beutler also donated $11,000 to the Nebraska Democratic Party for a coordinated campaign (you know, like for those mailings that go out to registered Democrats reminding them to “vote for our Democratic team”). And he paid the Thought District $9,000 for this website. (I made my campaign website myself for $17. Maybe it shows, but I’ve never made a website before.)

By comparison, Republican mayoral challenger Tammy Buffington reported she had raised just $1,600 as of March 1. I’ve heard her say at campaign events that she probably won’t raise more than $15,000 — and that she hasn’t received any money from the Republican Party. It’s very clear to me that the Democrats are much more organized and aggressive on the local level than the Republicans.

So the question is, why is Beutler raising and spending money like a madman? Some speculate that he intends to run for governor in three years. Others say he wants to prevent the Democrats from losing control of the City Council, which would make it harder for him to accomplish his agenda.

Out on the campaign trail, people are telling me they’re getting hit up to volunteer and donate money like crazy by the Democrats. I was amused by the direct-mail flier that recently went out in Lincoln urging Democrats to “vote for your Democratic team” — with a photo of Beutler and all the local Democrats running for offices from airport authority to school board to city council.

Why was I amused? Because one of the last irritations I had as a reporter involved Beutler calling my boss and complaining that I had referred to council members as “Republican” or “Democrat.” I only ever did that when it appeared politics or political philosophy was at play in a debate or vote or bickering, but Beutler felt I was contributing to partisanship by even pointing out people’s party affiliation.

Now, just a few months later, he is sending out fliers urging Lincolnites to vote for an Airport Authority member based on whether they’re a Republican or Democrat. I find that amusing.

Other interesting tidbits about who has raised how much money for this campaign season:

INCUMBENTS
• Councilman Jon Camp is also headed for re-election in southeast Lincoln, but he’s still raising and spending money like his seat is on the line. He’s got signs all over town (far outside of his district), oversized signs and I’ve seen one billboard (like he doesn’t have name recognition). According to his most recent campaign report, he had nearly $65,000 in cash on hand.

• By comparison, Councilman Jonathan Cook — who, like Camp, has served on the council for 12 years — reported more than $10,000 in cash on hand as of March 1. Unlike Camp, Cook doesn’t like to raise money. (Which is probably why he still owes his old campaigns $38,500.)

• Councilman Doug Emery (who is seeking his second four-year term) had nearly $15,000 in cash on hand as of March 1. What’s interesting about Emery, a Democrat, is that he said he won’t accept money from the firefighters’ union this year (there goes like $15,000).

CHALLENGERS
• Democrat Carl Eskridge — who is running for the City Council in northwest Lincoln — reported nearly $12,000 in cash on hand as of March, almost all of it from individuals. The biggest contribution was $3,000 from John Hannah of Houston, Texas. Wish I had rich friends in Texas!

• Republican City Council candidates Chad Wright, Travis Nelson and Melissa Hilty, Democrat Bobbi Kosmicki and independent Deena Winter (me) don’t file campaign finance reports until they’ve raised $5,000, which apparently they have not since I can’t find reports for them. (I know I haven’t — I made that crazy promise not to take money from anyone but individuals, so I will raise much less money than most candidates. Most of my donations are $20 to $25, and I love that!)

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roger Yant
    Mar 26 2011

    This is all very interesting Deena, thank you. Just a note about the Republican party here in Lincoln. I stoped in there about two weeks ago and asked ——- why they were not going to give Tammy any help, financially or in any other way. Answer was, they have no money. What, they have no money. Then as the head of the republican party in Lincoln he should get on the phone and start calling some, there are many very wealthy republicans in town, now how hard could that be? They told me that she could use their offices for phoning and other things like that, but as far as helping out financially, no. I know they gave Svoboda money four years ago. To many republicans in town are in bed with Beutler and his administration and won’t help out that is one good reason. There is so much corruption in this city it makes Chicago look good. Follow the money. Think arena, Antelope Valley, State Fair Park, and block 38! Land grabs for the university and money to be made by so many.

    Reply
    • Faith A. White
      Apr 1 2011

      I don’t know where Yant gets his information. As treasurer of the Lancaster County Party I have written checks to Buffington for Mayor, Travis Nelson and Melissa Hility. There is money earmarked for Chad Wright. The party also has organized phone banking for the candidates and now is phoning for getting out the vote!!!

      Reply
  2. Roger C
    Mar 26 2011

    This really is not a rocket science situation that requires hypothesis from an over-active imagination, Mr. Yant. There is no money because the climate is not right at this time for a viable challenger. Mayor Beuttler enjoys a significant position of power at this time by managing to placate the Republican base in Lincoln, to a degree. The union negotiations and contracts needs to be handled better, hence the hiring of Mr. Brashear. I don’t think any of this means ‘Republicans are in bed with the Mayor’, as you like to state, but Beuttler is accomplishing much of the revitalization and business progression we’ve been wanting to see for quite awhile now. This is why there are not any “real” Republican challengers in this race, as there were a couple who considered it. I will only speak for myself, but I’m not going to donate to the amateur hour, which is what Ms. Buffington’s campaign is.

    Reply
  3. Mar 27 2011

    Deena I am glad you find it amusing because I sure do not. Props to those who build their own websites and write their own material! It does not take skills to write a fat check or have Phil Montag build a website for them. I did not realize when I signed up to run if I had said I was a donkey instead of an elephant, I would have vast financial resources and armies of volunteers at my disposal.

    Reply
  4. Fletch
    Mar 27 2011

    To Roger Yant, I would add my analysis. No amount of money can get Buffington elected. Every time she opens her mouth, she’s her own worst enemy. Even a wealthy Republican would have to agree that’s just putting good money into bad. This time around, Beutler could spend zero dollars and still clean house in this election. The true problem is that no decent Republican challenger stepped up to the plate. I don’t think Beutler has universal popularity, nor do I think he’s particularly unbeatable. This is just the least effective candidate running for the Republican side that I can remember.

    Reply
  5. Huskerfan
    Mar 27 2011

    Doesn’t Tammy Buffington have a coordinated effort happening? What do you think that does for you, Deena, when every time I see a Buffington yardsign there’s a Winter one right next to it?

    Reply
  6. Roger Yant
    Mar 27 2011

    I can say I have seen quite a few signs in yards for Beutler and Winter, the same yard, ummm, I guess there are people on both sides that like Deena. Maybe you equate that people can’t like a republican or democrat and a independent at the same time. I have friends who like Beutler and Deena, I put a Winter sign in their front yard yesterday, along with the Beutler sign that was already there. We should never pick an individual by party, it should be what they stand for, and will they do an honest job for our community. We have a problem in our state, city and country when people just go down the list and pick by party only. I like Deena because I know she will look into the issue and vote what is best, not because it follows party line.

    Reply

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