In the first month of the official 2020 election campaign, some Lamoille County legislative hopefuls have quickly raised campaign money while some, largely incumbents, are sitting tight for now.
For the 2018 election, when a “blue wave” swept many Democrats into office — partly as a mid-term rebuke to President Donald Trump — campaign contributions were significant, particularly at the legislative level, where these things are historically modest.
Candidates who raise or spend more than $500 are required to file campaign finance reports with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. The deadline for the initial reports was July 1. Here’s the early picture for Lamoille County.
Repeat of 2018?
In the last election, the bulk of Lamoille County campaign finance action was in the single-seat House districts on either side of Smugglers Notch.
The races for Stowe (Lamoille-1) and for Cambridge-Waterville (Lamoille-3) brought in roughly $95,000 in campaign contributions.
Stowe could be a big-money race again, with Democrat Jo Sabel Courtney clearing the first financial disclosure deadline with $2,165 in contributions since late May, when the candidates officially entered the 2020 race.
Courtney is challenging Republican Heidi Scheuermann, who has held the seat since 2006.
Half of Courtney’s total comes from Scheuermann’s 2018 opponent, Marina Meerburg, who ended the last election with more than $3,000 in the bank. Meerburg contributed $1,040 of that to Courtney’s campaign.
The remainder of Courtney’s money comes from a series of small donations — anything under $100 can be donated anonymously.
Scheuermann hasn’t raised any money so far this election cycle, but has just over $9,000 in the bank from her previous elections.
Spending has been light in the early part of the 2020 election. Scheuermann has spent about $300, most of it on ads in the Stowe Reporter.
Courtney has spent $234, on technology and on weekly fees to the national-scale Democratic donation juggernaut ActBlue. The organization has broken donation records this year, particularly in the weeks following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
On the other side of the Notch, in the Cambridge-Waterville district, there’s not been as much activity.
Incumbent Democrat Lucy Rogers of Waterville started with $3,055 left over from her previous campaign and added $285 last month. She spent $82 of that, mostly at the Waterville Post Office.
Her Republican challenger, Ferron Wambold of Jeffersonville, has raised $350 and has sat on it, for now.
Up for grabs
The Lamoille-2 House district — Belvidere, Hyde Park, Johnson and Wolcott — has been sleepy for the past few election cycles, with incumbent Democrats Matt Hill and Dan Noyes all but ignoring fundraising.
But Hill didn’t run for re-election this year, so the sprawling district could see some cash flow.
Already, Democratic candidate Kate Donnally of Hyde Park has raked in $8,110. Of that, $3,340 comes from gifts under $100. Former Democratic Lamoille County legislators Mark Woodward and Susan Bartlett gave $250 to Donnally’s campaign, and Waterville Rep. Lucy Rogers donated $150. Donnally also got $500 from Cat Gallagher, the Lamoille North school superintendent, who stressed that she wrote a personal check for the donation; no public money is involved.
Cambridge-based Typha Marketing, founded by one-time House candidate Justin Marsh — perhaps better known as drag queen Emoji Nightmare — contributed $540 to Donnally for internet marketing.
Donnally has spent $339 so far, on ActBlue and postage fees.
Another newcomer, Republican Shayne Spence of Johnson, declared $3,107 raised so far. His biggest benefactor — besides loaning himself money, a common way for new candidates to get started — is Johnson resident and business owner Greg Tatro, who donated $1,000.
Spence has already spent a third of what he’s raised, largely on website development, with some Facebook ads in the mix.
The other two candidates don’t make much of a blip in the finance radar this time around. Republican Richard Bailey of Hyde Park loaned himself $500 to kickstart the campaign but hasn’t spent anything. And Noyes, the incumbent from Wolcott, spent $95 on a News & Citizen ad and postage fees, drawn from the $146 his campaign had in the bank from the last election.
The Lamoille-Washington House district, which covers Morristown, Elmore, Worcester and Woodbury, has two incumbent Democrats with money in the bank and one Republican who has started to build his campaign fund.
Incumbent Dave Yacovone, D-Morristown, has $5,270 on hand, with $1,970 raised so far this year, much of it before he was even officially declared a candidate. He hasn’t spent anything yet.
His incumbent district partner, Avram Patt, D-Worcester, has about a third of that, having spent most of his funds getting re-elected in 2018 — he’d been defeated in 2016 by Morristown Republican Gary Nolan, but won his seat back the next cycle. Patt has spent $175 this year.
Two Republicans are challenging Yacovone and Patt, Tyler Machia and Shannara Johnson, both of Morristown.
Only Machia filed a report this time. He has raised $480 and spent $150.
Elsewhere in Lamoille County, Sen. Rich Westman, R-Cambridge, and Orleans-Lamoille Rep. Mark Higley, R-Lowell, are unopposed. None of them showed any money coming in this election cycle, although Higley spent $200 donating to food shelves in Jay and Johnson.