I’m sorry that I’ve been falling behind on my postings of late. Having returned from Denver with an in-box as tall as I am, it’s been a bit of a challenge getting on top of things.
This week has been an interesting week in politics with a few announcements here and there. Given that I am a political fundraiser by trade, I figured it was about time for me to do a full assessment on the major campaigns and their finance operations. Please note that I will be doing this from the prospective of a Californian, so my bias will be from that prospective…which is fine because we pay for most of the country’s national elections anyway.🙂
Installment 1: Mayor Rudy Giuliani
The Giuliani campaign has had quite a ride since he declared his run for the presidency. The growing pains have been obvious however. Because the Mayor had a lot of enthusiasm and energy and the start was rushed, it is clear that they didn’t have exactly the most “organized” process for raising money. That, coupled with that major gaffe in the news about the “lost finance binder” left on a chartered aircraft with campaign strategy that was leaked to the media (and probably resulted in the firing for former finance director Anne Dickerson), didn’t get the campaign off to a good start.
Having been a part of the Bush-Cheney 2004 finance operation, I can’t even begin to explain the regime and structure in place to track and attribute every dollar that came into the campaign. In the era of “BCRA” (McCain-Feingold), it’s not about how much you can write a check for, it’s about how many rich friends you have that can write checks and bundle along with yours. That said, it’s important to line up the “big whales” who can round up large sums of money quickly and early.
In California, the Giuliani campaign doesn’t have that. A fundraiser held a few months ago at the home of former Ambassador Rockwell Schnabel and chaired by former LA Mayor Richard Riordan only netted around $100,000. They have an upcoming event at the Beverly Hilton where the tickets are $250 each, and the names on the host committee are filled with medium-tierd electeds and mid-level donors. No big names = no big money.
The Giuliani campaign out here is being chaired by former gubernatorial candidate and son of the former Treasury Secretary, William (Bill) Simon. Simon, while a wealthy and intelligent man himself, is not a good fundraiser, and they don’t have much of a finance organization here in the slightest. Los Angeles is being headed up by former Riordan fundraiser Alice Borden (whose client base these days is primarily Democrats) and in Orange County by Jason Pitkin (political director to Congressman John Campbell, who has endorsed Mitt Romney).
On the national level, the campaign just scored with the pick-up of fundraising domina Anne LeGassick Dunsmore and her firm Capital Campaigns. I used to work for Anne back in the day, and can say she is absolutely the best fundraiser in the business. She will be leading the national finance operation and hold the title of Deputy Campaign Manager for Fundraising. This really seems like the first time that a fundraiser has been brought into the upper echelon of campaign management, so it should be interesting to see if there is any more synergy between the finance and political operations in this campaign. One thing that I can say with certainty is that Dunsmore WILL shake up the operation. If that means cleaning house, so be it. One thing I’ve learned from her is to stay out of her way. She’s bright, talented and driven. She will make the changes needed in a structural way to the campaign and the finance operation as a whole. Either they will change or she will quit…or the whole campaign will go down in flames. She does have a hot temper…hotter than most of the women in fundraising and this could be a liability, since most likely she’ll be based out here in Los Angeles, and distance can lead to friction. Additionally, she used to be the CA Finance Director for Mitt Romney (…technically his “PAC” and the RGA…but who is splitting hairs here??)…so there are definitely a few major donors out here who are grumbling about her jumping from the S.S. Romney over to the Giuliani frigate.
Additionally, Willie Gaynor, the former BC 04 Western Regional Finance Director and Innauguration 2004 Finance Director is a senior finance advisor to the Giuliani campaign, and I also heard rumors that former Bush operative/fundraiser Jack Oliver is back on the scene and working w/ Giuliani. Willie, Jack and Anne work well together.
Long story short is that Giuliani’s campaign needs to grow up and get it’s network together out here. They’ve been doing these “rag-tag” fundraisers here and there without much thought or planning, and it’s just not going to result in the returns they needs to see in a place like California. They need a statewide finance director (that is not Anne Dunsmore) and a cadre of 5-6 regional fundraisers to keep all the fires burning. This is how McCain and Romeny are right now…and where Giuliani needs to be to make that cash flow.