DA Hopefuls Slug It Out for Dollars
Still trailing in campaign cash, former prosecutor Mike Cahillane surges in August fundraising blitz
NORTHAMPTON – Former assistant DA Michael A. Cahillane, whose fundraising for the top prosecutor’s job was lagging far behind his opponent’s during much of 2010, has flexed his fundraising muscle in recent weeks.
According to his latest campaign financing statement, Cahillane raked in over $17,000 during the first two weeks of August, over three times more than Register of Probate David E. Sullivan, his only opponent for the job.
Both men are Democrats, and face off in a Sept. 14 Democratic Party primary in the district, which includes Hampshire and Franklin counties, as well as Athol. With no Republicans on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, the primary winner will replace longtime Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who said last year she would not seek re-election to the $148,843-a-year post.
Although at times this summer Sullivan campaign’s fundraising and spending has topped Cahillane’s by a 2 to 1 margin, a close look at the fundraising reports shows the two are now running neck-and-neck.
Since Memorial Day, the two candidates have run almost dead even in campaign fundraising and spending, with Cahillane coming on strong in the past two weeks. According to candidate reports filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Cahillane has raised $29,065 and spent $22,686 since June 1. During the same period, Sullivan has raised $27,553 and spent $23,476.
In the first two weeks of August, state records show, Cahillane’s campaign collected $17,462, compared to Sullivan’s $4,796, a 3.6 to 1 advantage. Cahillane also outspent Sullivan during the period by more than 2 to 1, paying out $9,278 compared to Sullivan’s $4,017.
Cahillane’s cash haul during the past two weeks is almost twice the amount he has raised at any point during his 14-month campaign, and almost $7,000 more than all but one of Sullivan’s two-week reports.
(In early May 2009, Sullivan reported $13,534 in receipts. The twice-monthly filings, compiled and published by the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, can be found on the OCPF website at http://www.efs.cpf.state.ma.us/SearchReportCriteria.aspx?type=candidate. Select the name of candidates to see their financial reports.)
Money, of course, is just one indicator of the candidate’s potential at the polls.
For instance, Cahillane, who worked for 10 years in the DA’s office as an assistant prosecutor and handled numerous high-profile cases, has won the support of police patrol officer unions in Northampton and Easthampton. The unions gave his campaign $500 each last month. But Sullivan, a longtime trial attorney and former president of the Hampshire County Bar Association, has garnered support from dozens of former prosecutors. (For more on endorsements, see accompanying campaign story.)
Whomever wins the election will head a Northampton office that employs nearly 100 people, from prosecutors and staff to State Police investigators. The duties and responsibilities for the DA’s job are spelled out in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapt. 12, Sec. 121.
Despite a recent fundraising push by his opponent, Sullivan maintains has a distinct financial advantage.
Elected in 2002 and again in 2008 as the register of the Hampshire County Probate and Family Court, Sullivan has an established campaign organization that knows how to raise money and secure endorsements.
Sullivan’s edge also comes from the fact that he announced in January 2009 that he would seek the DA’s post, a full five months before Cahillane – who was working in the office as a top prosecutor for DA Scheibel – threw his hat into the ring and resigned his assistant DA post.
For Sullivan, 2009 began with nearly $12,000 in his campaign coffers, and, while Cahillane was mulling over whether to run, he got a healthy jump start, raising another $30,000 and spending about $20,000 on the race.
During the last seven months of 2009, after both campaigns had revved into high gear, Sullivan raised more than $41,000 and spent $30,000, while Cahillane raised about $32,000 and spent $12,000.
So far in 2010, Sullivan has raised almost $72,000, almost half-again Cahillane’s receipts of nearly $49,000. On the spending side, Sullivan also sports a hefty lead, having shelled out almost $55,000 this calendar year compared to Cahillane’s $41,000.
In summary, during the 14-plus months since both candidates have been in the race, Sullivan has raised about $108,000 and spent $81,000, while Cahillane has raised about $80,000 and spent $52,000.
And, after all the contributions have been totaled and the expenses paid out, state records show, Sullivan’s war chest remains flush: his campaign has $52,170 in the bank, compared to Cahillane’s $28,518, giving Sullivan a distinct edge.
Cahillane’s August Surge
Despite the overall numbers, Cahillane’s recent fundraising blitz is impressive.
During the reporting period covering Aug. 1-15, Cahillane received 28 checks of $100 or more, 17 of which were for at least $250, including six for $500, the most state law allows an individual to give a candidate during a calendar year.
Cahillane’s top gift-givers this month were: retiree Michelle Fortier, 1174 Florence Road, Florence; retiree Sally Griggs, 9 Barrett Place, Northampton; lawyer Robert Higgins and homemaker wife Sue Higgins, both of 30 Holly Berry Way, Norwell, Mass.; Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Renee Steese, of 30 Lauren Lane, Southwick; and Judith Zahn, of 22 Pantry Road, West Hatfield , for whom no other information was provided.
For Sullivan, the first half of August was nothing out of the ordinary. Of his 52 contributors during the past two weeks, only two were for $250. To find six $500-donors to the Sullivan campaign, Northampton Media searched back to the months of June and July.
The most recent $500 contributors to Sullivan’s campaign are: art dealer Eva Fierst, of 10 Park St., Florence; retired building supplier Robert Foote Jr., PO Box 177, Northampton; lawyer David Wilson, of 2 Park Plaza, Boston; lawyer Calvin Carr, PO Box 77, Heath; and retiree Charles Hancock, of 2130 Pineridge Drive, Reno, Nevada.
(Note: state law requires home addresses and occupations for all donors of more than $50; Sullivan’s recent filings lack some information.)
Cahillane’s spending this so far this month has been confined almost entirely to one firm, Campaign Network, a Boston-based consultant that gives campaign advice (at a cost of $2,500 every month), purchases signs and office equipment, and orders invitations and other campaign stuff. Usually these various tasks are itemized separately on the bi-monthly reports. But for the most recent two-week period the firm was paid in one lump sum, $9,125, for “consulting, printing and brochures.”
The Cahillane campaign’s largest checks have consistently been to Campaign Network. Besides its monthly fee, the company has been paid to purchases signs (allocating $4,182 for double-faced signs on June 3), and orders invitations and other campaign stuff (like $1,841 for bumper on April stickers on April 5). The campaign also spent $2,100 this April to buy voter lists from the state Democratic Party and from Voter Activation Network.
Sullivan has also spent heavily on yard signs, including $4,600 with Valley Marketing Inc. of South Hadley on June 24. In May, his campaign cut a check for $3,500 to the ad agency Darby O’Brien of South Hadley for “campaign concept development” and spent $1,500 in July for another consultant, Gregory Maynard of Easthampton.
In the last two weeks of May, Sullivan’s campaign spent $8,222, including: $1,250 to Seth Mias Catering of Leeds for a campaign event, $1,700 on business cards, $810 on a campaign mailer, $700 for food a fundraiser at the Greenfield Grille, and $528 on stamps.