By Amanda Creech
INDIANAPOLIS — The pleas for money are cluttering up voters’ inboxes.
“We had to reach out just one more time before our fundraising deadline hits,” an email from Gov. Mike Pence’s reelection campaign begged on Tuesday.
“Do you believe Hoosier families deserve a governor who shares our values?” an email from Democrat John Gregg’s campaign urges earlier in the day. “If you do, chip in $5 to help John take back our state.”
The campaigns were trying to beat a midnight Tuesday deadline for reporting contributions for federal and state level campaigns.
“This is the moment when it becomes public how much money you’ve been able to raise,” said Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics. “And whether we like it or not the amount of money candidates raise is viewed as the proxy for how the campaign is going.”
Donations made by midnight Tuesday will be included on campaign finance reports to be released mid-July. Donations made after midnight won’t be reported until next fall.
So the candidates’ campaign teams are working hard to remind donors about that deadline. They send out emails and make phone calls to ensure that they receive as many contributions as possible before reporting.
Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of IN Group, a network of newsletters about Indiana government, said any deadline for reporting campaign donations is important.
“In this case, the June 30 deadline is important in a couple of races,” Feigenbaum said. “For example, the U.S senate race on the Republican primary side… because Todd Young wants to show that he can enter the race as the campaign fundraising leader in that contest. That gives him a good boost.”
Feigenbaum said campaign reports can tell the public a lot about a candidate.
“If a candidate is not able to raise a significant amount of money in a contest while an opponent is able to raise a good bit of money, the perception is the candidate with the lesser war chest is going to be the lesser candidate,” he said.
And that lesser candidate might start to lose his lead in the campaign.
As Kip Tew, a former Indiana Democratic chairman, explains: “Success begets success.”
Although both the federal and state campaigns had a midnight Tuesday deadline, state candidates – including those running for governor – report less frequently than federal candidates. That makes each fundraising milestone a little bit more important for them, Feigenbaum said. They won’t have as many opportunities to share their fundraising numbers, he said.
Tew said that campaign reports also show the public where a candidate’s support comes from.
“It is an attempt at transparency so people know where people are getting their money from and how much money they raised,” Tew said.
Starting Wednesday, the fundraising begins all over again.
“They will let them cool off for a little while,” said Mike McDaniel, a former chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. “Then they’ll go back and try to raise money from them again.”
Amanda Creech is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.