Posted: Sept. 9, 2016


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

People have heard of high finance? Political campaigns are kind of low finance. Beg, borrow, wheel-and-deal.

The craving for contributions is so consuming, it is like Pokemon GO for the candidate set.

The last round of campaign finance reports is in for the races that are about to be decided Tuesday on Primary Day in Delaware. The ones for state office had to be filed by Thursday. The ones for the state's lone congressional seat came in earlier, but the candidates have to continue to report contributions or self-loans of $1,000 or more.

As usual, they were hardly a pretty picture. A necessary evil, yes, but not a pretty picture.

HEY, BIG SPENDERS. Nowhere has there been a more desperate call for cash than the Democratic congressional primary, and no wonder. In a state as Democratic as this one, it would not take Miss Cleo to predict the winner could use a copy of the train schedule to Washington.

The three leading candidates -- Sean Barney, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Bryan Townsend -- have all collected upwards of a half-million dollars in contributions in the race to replace John Carney, the Democratic congressman who is easily regarded as the front-runner for governor.

Rochester raised the stakes last week, when she loaned her campaign an extra $225,000. This was on top of previous self-loans amounting to $178,900, for a total of $403,900. It is not quite in the same league as Jack Markell, who put up $725,000 of his own money when he was elected the Democratic governor, but still.

No other primary candidates, state or federal, have committed that much of their own money. The next closest is Lacey Lafferty, the Tea Party type running in the Republican primary for governor against Colin Bonini.

Lafferty has essentially self-financed her campaign with $88,300 in loans, great gobs of it spent on incidentals at convenience stores, gas stops and coffee shops.

The difference is Rochester could turn out to be a congresswoman, while Lafferty could turn out to be just one of the best things to happen to Dunkin' Donuts.

INCOME INEQUALITY. The six-candidate field in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor has sorted itself into the haves and the have-nots.

Bethany Hall-Long and Kathy McGuiness each have more than a quarter-million dollars in campaign contributions. The rest have not.

Hall-Long collected $263,000 in total contributions, including an impressive $48,500 in the time between the 30-day-out campaign finance reports and the most recent 8-day-out reports. McGuiness brought in $266,600 in total contributions and also loaned her campaign another $50,600.

Not that having the money guarantees one of them will win, but it certainly does not hurt.

TWO BROKE CANDIDATES. Woe to the Republican candidates for insurance commissioner. Jeff Cragg and George Parish have so little left in their campaign accounts, they could not scrape up the money between them for so much as a classy iPad.

Meanwhile, Karen Weldin Stewart has quietly taken in more than $200,000 in her campaign for a third-term as the Democratic insurance commissioner, although she still has to get through a primary against Trini Navarro, who is modestly financed.

The Republican candidates look as out of it as the 1962 New York Mets, baseball's "lovable losers" who drove Casey Stengel, their manager, to gripe, "Can't anybody here play this game?"

Does anybody here want this nomination?