Walters: Scott Holds Modest Fundraising Lead Over Hallquist | Off Message

Walters: Scott Holds Modest Fundraising Lead Over Hallquist


Christine Hallquist making a point while Gov. Phil Scott listens during their debate at the Tunbridge World's Fair - FILE: JOHN WALTERS
  • File: John Walters
  • Christine Hallquist making a point while Gov. Phil Scott listens during their debate at the Tunbridge World's Fair
In his latest campaign finance filing, which was due Monday, Republican Gov. Phil Scott reported raising $138,000 during the month of September. His Democratic challenger, Christine Hallquist, reported a fundraising total of $131,000 for the month.

Their respective totals for the entire campaign cycle: Scott $492,000, Hallquist $358,000. Scott has $121,000 cash on hand, which includes a $19,000 surplus from his 2016 campaign. Hallquist has $65,000.

These numbers are well behind the fundraising pace of two years ago, when the governorship was open and both major-party candidates had to survive hotly contested primaries. By October 1, 2016, Democrat Sue Minter had raised $1.39 million and spent $1.26 million. Then-lieutenant governor Scott had raised $1.14 million and spent virtually all of it.

Each campaign cycle has its own dynamics but the numbers tend to increase almost every time.

Scott's fundraising is heavily weighted toward big-dollar donations. During September, his campaign received 372 separate donations, meaning the average contribution was $371. Hallquist received 1,229 donations, which averaged $107 each.

"We feel good about the numbers," said Hallquist campaign manager Cameron Russell. "We're keeping pace with a longtime incumbent."

Well, more or less. Scott's lead is not insubstantial, but he has failed to open up the kind of lead that might be expected from an incumbent who's popular in the business community.

"This is a winnable race," Russell continued. "As long as we can get our message out to Vermonters, we're competitive."

Scott's campaign manager, Brittney Wilson, had a different interpretation. "I was surprised, to be honest," she said. "Given the amount of time and attention on her race, both in Vermont and nationally, I expected a much larger number for her campaign."

Hallquist has received a massive amount of media coverage since her victory in the August primary due to her historic status as the first openly transgender person to win a major party's nomination for governor.

"We're raising the money we need," said Wilson, expressing confidence that Scott is on track to win a second term in office.

Scott received big-dollar donations from many businesses and business owners — mainly from within Vermont, but there were some corporate donations from the likes of Coca-Cola ($2,000) and tobacco giant Altria ($4,080). He received a total of $14,240 from gasoline mogul Skip Vallee, his fuel company and members of his family.

Hallquist refuses to accept corporate contributions. Her large donations came mostly from individuals. She did receive $4,080 from the Vermont-National Education Association's political action committee and $4,000 from Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) Green Mountain PAC.