In U.S. House Race, Gray Has Most Cash Heading Into Primary Homestretch | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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In U.S. House Race, Gray Has Most Cash Heading Into Primary Homestretch


Published July 15, 2022 at 7:50 p.m.
Updated July 28, 2022 at 10:39 a.m.

From left: Becca Ballint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray and Louis Meyers - FILE PHOTOS
  • File photos
  • From left: Becca Ballint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray and Louis Meyers
Updated on July 17, 2022.

In the final quarter of fundraising ahead of the August 9 primary, Democratic U.S. House candidate Becca Balint outpaced her chief rival, Molly Gray, by about $40,000.

Both campaigns touted the second quarter, which ran from April 1 through the end of June, as their best showing since the candidates entered the race in December.  The filings released on Friday show that Gray, Vermont's lieutenant governor, hauled in about $364,000, compared to about $404,700 for Balint, the president of the Vermont Senate.

But Gray boasted more cash on hand — about $500,000 — compared to Balint, who had about $362,000 in the bank. That could be crucial as the candidates hit the final few weeks of campaigning, which usually include large get-out-the-vote efforts and TV advertisements.

The filings show Balint spent more than $230,000 on TV ads in about a five-week period from late May through June; Gray spent about $48,500 on broadcast TV ads during the quarter, according to her campaign.

“Our campaign is powered by people, and I am proud to have earned the support of so many Vermonters who know I have the experience to lead for Vermont in Washington,” Gray said in a statement announcing her haul. “Over the next 25 days I’ll continue working hard to reach undecided voters in every corner of the state, talking about the challenges ahead and how I’ll tackle them head-on in Congress.”
While Balint has less money to spend, she is benefitting from two political action committees that are running ads in support of her candidacy. Both PACs — Equality PAC and LGBTQ Victory Fund — support LGBTQ  congressional candidates, and both have endorsed Balint, who is gay. But the Equality PAC is also sending out mailers on Balint's behalf, while the LGBTQ Victory Fund has spent more than $160,000 for television ads ahead of the primary.

Such groups are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns.

The Gray campaign has spent the last several weeks focusing on outside spending — even before any money was spent. At a debate in June, Gray asked Balint if she'd denounce such spending and then hold a press conference to urge the groups to pull the ads. Balint answered yes.
On Friday, Gray campaign manager Samantha Sheehan sent Balint campaign manager Natalie Silver an email inviting Balint to join Gray at a press conference "as soon as possible."

"The Lt. Governor will reiterate that this type of interference in our elections is bad for our democracy and gets in the way of candidates talking directly to voters," Sheehan wrote. "Vermonters decide elections, not outside groups."

In a statement Friday, Balint denounced the spending and said she "did not invite this.

"I don’t approve of it. I have been very clear that I don’t support SuperPACs," Balint said. "My position hasn’t changed. And unfortunately, our system is such that I (and every other candidate) am in a position where I cannot do anything more than say that out loud and publicly. I have now done that over and over. That’s something I will work to change in Congress."
Asked about attending the press conference, Silver told Seven Days in a text message that Balint would not.

"Becca is spending time talking with Vermonters, not engaging in political stunts," Silver wrote. "Becca has vehemently denounced the spending over and over; as she did again today."

Further, Silver said she had "serious concerns that a press conference which is meant to message to outside groups could be seen as illegal coordination.

"Our campaign will not do anything that could be seen as illegal coordination," she wrote. "Period."
Fundraising from the rest of the field trailed Gray's and Balint's. Louis Meyers, a Rutland Regional Medical Center physician who is running in the Democratic primary, loaned his campaign $257,976 and took in $925 in donations, according to his filing. After expenses, he had $240,641 on hand, according to his report.

Sianay Chase Clifford, another candidate in the primary, raised about $12,500 during the quarter and spent $18,100, leaving her with about $430 cash on hand, the filings show.

State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden), who dropped out of the U.S. House race in late May and endorsed Balint, raised about $70,000 for the quarter. Ram Hinsdale had raised about $38,700 before she announced she was dropping out on May 27. Campaign finance rules allowed her to continue fundraising to pay off any debts.

In the Republican primary for the House, independent Liam Madden reported the most donations: $36,296, according to his filing. More than $25,000 was from people named Madden, including the candidate himself, who contributed $5,800. After expenses, Madden's campaign had $19,736 on hand, his report showed.

Republican Ericka Redic raised about $5,000, while a third candidate in the GOP primary, Anya Tynio, reported receiving no contributions.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), announced that he'd raised about $971,000 in the second quarter and boasted $2.75 million cash on hand.

On the Republican side, former U.S. attorney Christina Nolan pulled in about $180,000 in the second quarter, according to her filing. A rival GOP candidate, Gerald Malloy, listed nearly $100,000 in contributions, but he loaned himself at least $50,000, the filings show.