Posted: Oct. 23, 2014; updated: Oct. 27, 2014
HEY, BIG SPENDERS
By Celia Cohen
John Carney was playing not-so-secret Santa the other night at the Delaware Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
With the help of his staff, he was handing out stocking stuffers, political style -- white envelopes filled with checks from the "John Carney for Congress" campaign to contribute to fellow Democrats running for statewide and legislative office, all set for Election Day on Nov. 4.
It was perfectly legal, even if it did look a little like Boss Tweed at work.
There were $1,200 checks for Sean Barney for treasurer and Brenda Mayrack for auditor, the maximum amount for statewide elections, and $600 checks for legislative candidates with Republican opponents, the most allowed in local races.
This is what can happen when a seasoned candidate like Carney finds himself sitting on nearly $1 million against an opponent like Rose Izzo, a Republican whose campaign account was all but bare with only $2,000 in it.
Carney and Izzo had one of the biggest "money gaps" among the five statewide races, trailing only the fund raising for the Senate candidates, as shown by the most recent round of campaign finance reports due earlier this month.
The reports, on file with either the state election commissioner or the Federal Election Commission, covered the financial activity through Oct. 5 for state office and through Sept. 30 for federal office.
The reports go a long way in explaining why the Democrats are favored at the top of the ballot, where Chris Coons is running for re-election as senator, Carney is going for another term as congressman, and Matt Denn is aiming to switch from lieutenant governor to attorney general.
The reports also reflect the competitive nature of the races for treasurer and auditor.
As usual, the reports show that Tom Wagner, the Republican auditor, is running another thy-will-be-done campaign.
Election after election, Wagner looks like he is positively phobic about raising money. This is a prime reason why the auditor's race is regarded as competitive.
This year Wagner appallingly collected only $13, 000, including exactly one maximum contribution of $1,200, given by the law firm of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor. It relegated him to scrounging up $4,640 in contributions of not more than $100.
For someone in office for 25 years, Wagner's fund raising is almost political malpractice.