The battle between Russell Pearce and Kevin Gibbons got us curious so we decided to pull the latest financial reports (accessible via the Secretary of State’s website) for both candidates.
This really is an unusual race just given the fact that the incumbent, Russell Pearce is running under the “Clean Elections” financial system and the challenger, Kevin Gibbons, is running under the traditional means of campaign finance. Usually, the challenger runs under “Clean Elections” because it is very difficult to raise money when taking on an incumbent. This is actually one of the positive unintended consequences which has benefitted newcomers to the political process because it has allowed them to bypass asking the establishment big-money donors for money when challenging the establishment’s incumbent candidates. However, in this race, it appears the roles have been switched as Gibbons, the challenger, has managed to win the support of big-money establishment donors while Pearce continues to cling to his grassroots supporters.
Based on who’s giving to Gibbons’ campaign, this race boils down to one issue – immigration. Notable donors to Gibbons’ campaign include Marion “Mac” MaGruder, Ross Farnsworth, Andrew Pacheco, Merwin Grant, Heather Sandstrom, Doug Pruitt, Steven Barclay, Scott Perkinson, Claudia Walters and seven political action committees. As this blog also pointed out, Gibbons’ campaign also received money from the former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party (Jim Pederson) and Yuma Democrat and State Representative, Lynne Pancrazi.
One will also notice that Gibbons has received plenty of money from donors who reside in Yuma – one of Arizona’s major farming hubs which relies on migrant labor.
Because Russell Pearce is running as a “Clean Elections” candidate he can only take $5 donations so his report shows only what he has received in seed money. Those donors include Fred Ash, David Childers, Thomas Jacobs and Janie Thom.
However, what is most surprising is the huge disparity of both campaigns when it comes to money. Kevin Gibbons has raised a whopping $66,220, spent only $3,494 leaving a cash-on hand balance of $62,725!
Pearce on the other hand entered the race with $24,381 at the beginning of the reporting period. He then raised $2,308 for the period, $24, 031 leaving him a cash-on-hand of $2,658 in the bank.
If money is an indicator of where a political race is headed, there could be trouble for the Pearce campaign, especially if the Gibbons campaign does not trigger a Clean Elections disbursement to the Pearce campaign. Timing will play an important factor in this race and with early voting scheduled to begin the first week of August, both campaigns will be looking for the “whites of their eyes” before pulling the political trigger.