Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson may not have much in the way of name recognition, but he is raising money—so much, in fact, that he’s already far outstripped what Jesse Ventura raised for his entire 1998 campaign and is far ahead of where Tom Penny was at this point four years ago. Hutchinson, who unlike some candidates, actually enjoys getting on the phone and asking for money, has raised $802,000. At this point in 2002, Penny had raised $236,000; Ventura raised only $392,000 for his successful run eight years ago.
And for the first time in the IP’s history, all its statewide candidates will qualify for matching funds from the state, guaranteeing the party another $400,000 after the September 12 primary.
All this while working together as statewide team—Hutchinson along with lieutenant governor candidate Maureen Reed, and John James (attorney general), Lucy Gerold (auditor), and Joel Spoonheim (secretary of state). Prior to trotting out this “team” fundraising/campaigning concept, the party met with state Ethical Practices officials, who approved the concept, said communications director Melanie Soucheray. “Each candidate has his or her own fundraising activity, and then they contribute to a pot for shared services,” she explained.
Has this ever been done before?
“Not that we’re aware of,” Soucheray said. “As far as we know, it’s the first time anyone has ever done it.”
The team concept not only gives the party a broader reach, but it sends the kind of message the IP wants voters to hear: “We’re making a statement,” she said. “It’s more value for the dollar.”
They’re apparently also making a statement about the personalities involved in these races. With five charged-up candidates spending a great deal of time together in a cramped van, they’ve really had to learn how to get along—and the fact that they do provides something of a contrast to their opponents. “The other parties’ candidates don’t seem to like each other very much,” she said.