Recent Scottsdale Campaign Contribution Report Revelations

Due yesterday for the year’s first quarter, the campaign contribution and expenditure reports for Scottsdale mayoral and city council candidates provide fresh insights into how the various campaigns are doing.  Here are some key observations:

The year-end campaign finance reports for 2019 showed Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp with a commanding lead over fellow Councilwoman Virginia Korte in the mayoral race.  The margin was driven by a developer and zoning attorney led fundraiser in December that was politically questionable but financially rewarding.  But in this quarter Klapp’s fundraising stalled somewhat, taking in less than $50,000.  Korte had the biggest haul, by far, of any candidate, mayoral or council.  Klapp still has a cash on hand lead over Korte — $132,000 to $103,000 – but the margin is noticeably different than it was.

While Klapp’s fundraising was sluggish she has the notable backing of current Mayor Jim Lane.  Lane used his standing to help candidates in 2018.  He is likely to do the same in 2020, but perhaps in new and different ways.

There’s no other way to put this:  Bob Littlefield’s fundraising was terrible.  He has only a little over $9,000 cash on hand and some of that is due to a $5,000 loan he made to the campaign he has already started to repay.  For all the talk of Littlefield’s grassroots support it has yet to materialize.  The vast majority of his expenses were for paid petition gatherers. While other candidates got signatures primarily or exclusively with volunteers Littlefield had to pay for them.  He lost in 2016, badly, but his fundraising in that race was somewhat impressive against an incumbent. So far, he is way off that pace.

David Ortega’s report looks like political autarky. Donations, almost exclusively, came from himself, his wife and people named Ortega.  And then he loaned his campaign a chunk of change to make it look like he is a real candidate. He’s not.  His cash on hand without reporting hardly any expenses is $43,000.

Despite qualifying for the ballot Lisa Borowsky’s mayoral campaign reported no receipts or expenditures.  We’re not sure how that is going to pass muster with the City Clerk or if her report was simply incomplete at the time of this writing.

Tammy Caputi leads the City Council field with $23,000 in cash on hand.  John Little has raised the most money so far, but his burn rate is very high. In particular, his consultants seem to be charging a disproportionate amount of money for this stage of the game, a dynamic that plagued Korte’s last report.  She seems to have fixed that problem, at least in appearance for now.  All other candidates have paltry sums of money, barely enough to forge road signs and some social media advertising let alone mailers, newspaper ads, television, etc.  Incumbent Guy Phillips’ receipts are surprisingly low but in council losses and victories Phillips’ vote totals are always outsized compared to his fundraising numbers.

For many obvious reasons fundraising is going to be difficult prior to the early August primary when six council candidates for three seats will move on to the November election, and two for Mayor.  So, these latest reports are not determinative, but they are insightful.