Holcombe Leads in Latest Fundraising As Primary Looms | Off Message

Holcombe Leads in Latest Fundraising As Primary Looms


  • Marc Nadel ©️ Seven Days

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. with further details and again at 10:20 p.m. with information from Scott Milne's late report.

In the homestretch before the August 11 primary, Rebecca Holcombe raised more money in the last month than her rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to reports filed Saturday with the Secretary of State's Office. 

Holcombe pulled in $64,913 between July 1 and August 1, edging out Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who collected $60,229 during the same final reporting period before the primary.

The result puts the former education secretary back to the front of the fundraising class, following Zuckerman’s strong performance in the last reporting period. At that point in the race, between March 13 and the end of June, Zuckerman had hit his stride and was far out-raising Holcombe, reporting $101,276 more than her during the period.

The late surge by Holcombe, who entered the Democratic primary six months before Zuckerman, extends her total fundraising lead over the lieutenant governor. To date, she has raised $546,278 to his $349,047, according to the latest filings. That includes $27,541 in donations from herself or family, including a $10,512 payment that she made last month to a political consultant for research services.

Zuckerman’s campaign nevertheless highlighted the 2,267 donors during the period and the average individual donation of $25 as evidence that he had the momentum in the race. Holcombe reported 527 donations in the period.

“This report highlights the success of our grassroots approach in reaching small-dollar donors with meaningful messages,” Megan Polyte, Zuckerman’s campaign manager, said in a release.

Both candidates have raked in far more campaign cash than the man they’re hoping to unseat, Gov. Phil Scott, or any of his Republicans rivals. Scott enjoyed a notable uptick in contributions compared to the previous reporting period despite his pledge not to campaign or fundraise until he lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency.

The governor had collected just $8,155 the previous period, but in the past month contributions to his reelection rose to $18,596. That's less than his Democratic rivals but still an indication of strong backing by the business community.

Of the 37 contributions Scott received during the period, the largest were $4,000 from Ernie Pomerleau, owner of Burlington-based Pomerleau Real Estate, one of the largest real estate firms in the state, and $3,000 from Chris Snyder, president of Shelburne-based Snyder Homes.

The contributions helped push the total raised by Scott this election to $98,793. That’s far more than his closest Republican rival, Brookfield farmer and lawyer John Klar, whose $8,447 in new contributions pushed his total to $37,297.

Klar has tried to appeal to Republicans in agricultural areas, and that's reflected in his donors. Many of his 127 contributions in the period come from rural communities such as Sutton, Tinmouth and West Burke.

Republican candidates Emily Peyton, Douglas Cavett and Bernard Peters did not file disclosures this period. Nor did Progressive candidates Cris Ericson and Boots Wardinski, nor Democrat Ralph Corbo.

But Democratic hopeful Pat Winburn continued to plow a fortune of his own money into his first run for public office. The Bennington attorney sank another $15,000 into his campaign, virtually all of the money raised during the period. He reported just 10 contributors in the period. Winburn has contributed a total of $205,677 to his campaign, the lion’s share of the $211,111 he has raised to date.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P–Chittenden) led his Democratic opponents in fundraising this month, collecting $28,982 from 233 donors.
Molly Gray, Brenda Siegel, Tim Ashe and Debbie Ingram - FILE ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File ©️ Seven Days
  • Molly Gray, Brenda Siegel, Tim Ashe and Debbie Ingram
A number of Ashe’s contributions are from Statehouse colleagues, including $500 from Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) and $250 each from Sen. Phil Baruth (D/P-Chittenden) and Rep. Kitty Toll (D-Danville). He also received $2,000 from Paul Kendall, a retired executive from Braintree active in health care reform, and $1,000 from Peter Galbraith, a former state senator and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the 2016 election.

Ashe loaned his campaign $5,000 last month, his report showed, bringing his total contribution to $10,000.

Last period, political newcomer Molly Gray, an assistant attorney general, led the field. But last month she dropped to second place with $22,134 raised.
She reported 265 total donors during the month.

Gray's contributions last month included $2,160 from Arthur Berndt, owner of Maverick Farm in Sharon, one of the largest sugaring operations in the state, and $500 from Ed Pagano, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and lobbyist who previously worked for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Gray still holds a commanding financial lead in the race, however, with $213,680 to Ashe’s $109,031 raised to date.

Both remain well ahead of the other two other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. Sen. Debbie Ingram (D-Chittenden) reported an additional $22,111, bringing her to $68,723 raised to date. She loaned herself $18,080 last month and has contributed $48,765 to date.

Activist Brenda Siegel reported another $17,702 in contributions for a total of $64,099 raised so far.

On the GOP side of the race, Scott Milne, a former Republican nominee for governor and U.S. Senate, reported significantly more than his rivals — $41,085 for July, bringing his total to date to $46,382. He reported 139 contributors, including the $10,016 he paid himself for mail and research expenses.

Milne reported after the deadline — and after the initial version of this story was filed on Sunday due to what his campaign said was a problem with the Secretary of State's Office website.

Republican Meg Hansen reported 71 donations totaling $10,814. She reported raising $36,764 to date, including $6,500 from herself this period.

Dana Frank Colson reported two donations totaling $55 and $1,570 raised to date. Former Milton representative Don Turner reported no contributions in the period, just some modest expenditures from a campaign mostly funded with his own $4,000 contribution.

Two other Republican candidates, Dwayne Tucker and Jim Hogue, did not file by the deadline, according to the Secretary of State's website.

Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly. Find our conflict-of-interest policy at sevendaysvt.com/disclosure.

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