That’s right! You start off with a large one! At least that’s the case if you’re former County Clerk candidate and current County Board Member Mark Davoust.
In what will likely forever define me as an irredeemable political geek, one of my favorite pastimes is reviewing the D2 reports immediately after an election. Because this is when you get to see just how much some folks spent to go down in a massive ball of fire.
It’s always an interesting proposition in the sense that, while pundits love to shriek about money making the candidate, the voters are getting hip to that trick. Just ask the Koch brothers who, having fared very poorly in their national efforts, set their sights a on a lowly Iowa Mayor’s race only to get their butts handed to them.
And the irony (I love that word) of the Citizens United decision is that all of that ferociously free flowing money tends to cancel itself out. To wit, of the twenty 2012 candidates who spent at least $35 per vote, half of ‘em lost. And 50/50 can only be considered a good proposition if you’re a point guard or you enjoy flipping coins.
But I digress!
So let’s get back to Kane County where we now know the aforementioned Mr. Davoust spent at least
$116,000 on his failed County Clerk campaign, $74,000 of which were loans to himself.
That’s a dumpster full of dinero to go down by 14 percentage points. And while I certainly agree with his sentiment, perhaps Mark’s message of getting out the Hispanic vote didn’t resonate too well with Republican voters.
By contrast, current GOP clerk nominee Jack Cunningham spent a paltry $38,000 making what essentially amounted to a three week effort.
So to prove my previous campaign finance point, while Davoust spent $8.50 per vote, by far the largest amount of any Kane County candidate, Cunningham laid out only $2.10.
It may be true that Cunningham was the incumbent, but conventional wisdom would dictate that outspending your opponent by more than 4 to 1 should get you a wee bit more than 43 percent of the vote.
Case in point, despite former St. Charles Mayor Sue Klinkhamer spending no money and refusing to put up as much as one sign, she actually managed to pull 44 percent of the vote in the 2012 GOP county chair primary. And that was against the wildly popular Chris Lauzen who frequently racks up 40 point victories.
Perhaps Mark might’ve done better if he followed in Sue’s fiscally conservative campaign footsteps.
For comparison’s sake, in the heated Sheriff’s race, winner Don Kramer spent $32,000, or $2.00 per vote, to runner up Kevin Williams’ $2.40.
Going back to those contested 2012 primary battles, Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell spent $28,000 to Cathy Hurlbut’s 42 grand, and Coroner Rob Russell shelled out almost $5,000 to god knows how little Bob Tiballi spent because I couldn’t find his bleepin’ committee!
To break Davoust’s efforts down, he spent:
- $2,500 on signs
- $8,000 on political consultants (from Bourbonnais!)
- $7,500 on printing
- $1,500 on robocalls (featuring the eminently popular Karen McConnaughay!)
- $10,500 on phone banks, and
- $84,000 on mailings (one of which arrived at 5 p.m. on election day)
So there you have it! A roadmap on how to blow a hundred large with nothing much to show for it but some really ugly green signs.
Word on the street is that Davoust was actually aiming at the chairmanship, but unless he’s some sort of masochist, that ain’t gonna happen now. Lauzen would make mincemeat out of him. Considering how peeved some GOP folks are at him (he went after a sitting Republican), he’ll be lucky to retain his county board seat in 2016.
But the real lesson, dear reader, is this. Money doesn’t change everything. Especially when it comes to elections.