Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pete Ricketts' Easter Present to Himself

by Kyle Michaelis
Pete Ricketts continues to inch closer to the magical $20 per voter mark before the May 9th Republican primary - adding another 500 thousand dollars of the Ricketts family fortune to his Senate campaign. That brings Ricketts' running total to approximately $3.5 million ($2.5 million + 500 K + this latest drop in the bucket).

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
Pete Ricketts poured another $500,000 of his own money into his Senate campaign this week....

And David Kramer said Friday he’s outraised Ricketts and Don Stenberg this year in their struggle for the Republican nomination for Nelson’s Senate seat.

Ricketts entered the final stage of the GOP primary battle with the most resources on hand. By far.

As of March 31, the end of the latest three-month campaign finance reporting period, Ricketts had $729,000 on hand, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

That does not include the $500,000 of personal funds he plowed into his campaign on Wednesday. That loan brought his personal commitment to nearly $3.5 million.

Ricketts, who stepped aside as chief operating officer of Ameritrade to enter the Senate race, long ago smashed Nebraska records for personal financing by a candidate.

Kramer, former Republican state chairman, entered April with $163,000 in the bank. Stenberg, the former three-term attorney general, had $34,000....

All told, from the beginning of the campaign, Ricketts has raised $577,000, the most of any of the Republican candidates. Add nearly $3.5 million in personal funding and he’s on course to spend more than $4 million before the May 9 primary vote.

Ricketts launched an expensive statewide TV advertising campaign months ago. Husbanding their resources, Kramer and Stenberg won’t be on television until the final week or two of the campaign.

The fact that Ricketts continues to pour his own money into his campaign this late in the game is hardly a show of strength. That Kramer has managed to actually take a lead in month-to-month fundraising demonstrates that Ricketts, despite his constant bombardment of voters with paid advertising, isn't clicking the way he should after all those millions spent. He's not clearing the field. Ricketts may, in fact, be losing traction, when he was already on questionable footing in the first place.

An estimated 200,000 votes for which Ricketts is spending $4 million-plus. Wow! I'd say he's going for broke, except Ricketts may well have found this latest $500,000 under the cushions of his billionaire daddy's couch.

Of course, it's important to note that Sen. Ben Nelson is holding his own in the fund-raising department, having raised $4.7 million of which he had 3.2 million on hand at the beginning of April. That positions Nelson well no matter who comes out of the Republican primary, meaning even Ricketts' fortune won't be able to drown out his campaign.

The fact that Nelson's money is actually coming from Nebraska voters investing in his campaign certainly speaks in his favor as well. Ricketts may be able to match, double, or triple Nelson dollar for dollar but it won't be anything but the candidate's wealth and pride on display. Real Nebraskans, on the other hand, are making a real investment in the Nelson campaign because they know and trust the man.

The one thing Ricketts can't buy is the people's trust. You have to earn it. And, from this report, it's clear that Ben Nelson is the only candidate who has done so. In fact, he's the only one to have even come close.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad Ricketts hasn't thought to invest money into supporting rape crisis and counseling services in Nebraska... he's been quite public about his view that women made pregnant from rape and incest should not be allowed abortions (Which I hope makes him appear too much of a zealot to get elected). I'd like to see just a smidge of compassion coming out of this wealthy man.


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