Primary campaign fundraising underway
The bell has rung to begin fundraising for next year's 2006 Election. Alabama's law allows candidates to begin raising campa ign money one year prior to the party primaries, which will be June 6, 2006.
You will not know how the potential candidates have fared in the early money season for seven months. The early money season will be from now to year-end. The year-end disclosure statements will be filed with the Secretary of State in January. All incumbent legislators will squeeze lobbyist to raise early money in hopes that large worksheets will ward off opposition.
It is my guess that the largest amount of early money will be given to incumbent House and Senate members. Indeed when the story is told at the end of the 2006 election cycle my prediction will be that the bulk of traditional PAC money, the primary source of Alabama campaign funds, will go to Legislative and especially State Senate races.
I do not believe that you will see the amount of money spent in the 2006 governor's race that was spent in the 2002 Siegelman-Riley battle. Nor will you see large amounts spent on the lieutenant governor's race because that position is now mostly ceremonial. The power enjoyed by past lieutenant governors has been stripped from the job and now rest in the Senate leadership.
The four main horses in the governor's race, Lucy Baxley, Don Siegelman, Bob Riley and Roy Moore, may have problems raising tons of money. Between the two Democratic front runners, Siegelman is the most experienced fundraiser. He has been elected five times statewide and has run seven times. He has a built in and well-worked list of contributors.
Siegelman is a professional that is in a league of his own among the other three face cards. His only peer in Alabama, when it comes to fundraising, is Richard Shelby who is the master. Siegelman may lead the other three by January and would dwarf them if his polling numbers were not so dreadful.
Siegelman's primary opponent, Lucy Baxley, has very favorable poll numbers and is probably the favorite in the race. However, her fundraising ability is her Achilles heel. She has run three times statewide and won all three races, two for treasurer and one for lieutenant governor.
However, those races do not compare to Siegelman's three races for governor, one for a powerful lieutenant governor position, and one for attorney general.
Siegelman has run five heavyweight races and Lucy three lightweight contests and in those three minor league races she has not been an impressive fundraiser. One reason she may fall short in the money chase is that the PACs do not trust her. She is an unknown quantity to them because she has never been in a position to make major decisions. They do not know where her loyalties lie, nor do they know her priorities or tendencies. The PACs would be able to read her better if she had at least held a job where she showed her cards. She is also perceived as very unpredictable, independent, plainspoken, and spirited. PACs prefer to bet on a sure thing or at least a horse they can handicap.
Republican Gov. Riley will do well fundraising. Like Siegelman, Riley will probably be his party's top dollar man at the January "show your money" event.
However, also like Siegelman, Riley has baggage. His poll numbers are very low for an incumbent governor, especially among his own party faithful. He will not garner the business money he got in 2002.
Some of his biggest contributors, like Alfa and Forestry, were the primary targets of his proposed 2003 tax. They will be a little gun- shy of him this time around. However, if their other choices are Siegelman, Baxley, and Moore they may choose Riley out of default. He has worked hard to mend his fences among business donors and among the four face cards Riley will probably be the preferred business candidate.
Gov. Riley's primary opponent, Moore, will be the low man on the money raising totem poll. He will probably make little effort in this regard. Moore has already stated that he does not need money to be elected, that the people of Alabama already know who he is and what he believes. If you think Lucy is an enigma to the big PAC money, Moore truly is.
See you next week.