There are still 16 months until Election Day 2022 and already one thing is clear, the gubernatorial race is going to be expensive.
Current candidates had to disclose their financials this past weekend and with that Governor Gretchen Whitmer showed she has already raised more money in 2021 than her entire cycle in 2018.
This is mainly because of a major loophole in the rules.
“I’m proud of what we did,” said Gov. Whitmer, “It shows that we got a lot of support.”
Right now, the re-election campaign has $10.74 million on hand from fundraising, $8.65 million in just 2021.
These are huge numbers made possible because the dozens of recall efforts put up against Whitmer triggered the release of the individual donation cap. A decision made in 1984 said governors facing recall efforts should not be limited to donation caps while they are fighting the effort. Previously $7,150, it’s now unlimited and Whitmer is cashing in.
“We need reform when it comes to political contributions but so long as the rules are what they are, I’m going to make sure that I abide by the rules,” said Whitmer, “But that I am going to run as hard as I can.”
Several donors threw in more than a quarter million dollars each, most of the biggest donors from out of state.
“I do think there’s a risk, from a public relations standpoint, that this doesn’t smell so great,” said John Sellek, CEO of Harbor Strategies, “Taking $250,000 contributions from Hollywood Fat Cats, or just people outside of Michigan, that are trying to influence who our next leader is, doesn’t necessarily sound so hot.”
Her quarrels with former President Trump and her friendship with current President Biden has made her a national name who Dems want to keep in office and just showing their war chest creates problems.
“Whether you woke up this morning thinking she had 7 million in cash on hand or 10 million cash on hand, it’s still an incredibly daunting proposition to get into the race now and try to match that,” said Sellek.
Whether the extra money raised from these mega donations can be used on general campaign costs is yet to be seen but these big numbers may do the job just by sitting there in the account.
“It does sort of put a wet blanket on a lot of other donors who are thinking, ‘while I am frustrated with Governor Whitmer so I do want to look at these other people, but gosh do they even have a chance? Like I don’t want to throw my good money after bad money,” said Sellek, “Even though I’m frustrated with what’s happening.”