KA-CHING: DEMS SPENT BIG TO WIN

The Asbury Park Press has a story today on campaign spending in last year’s council and mayoral races in Red Bank showing that the Democrats — who won all three open seats — outspent the Republicans by more than four to one.

According to reporter Larry Higgs, the Dems, led by Mayor Pasquale Menna, spent $51,378, or $30.50 for every vote cast in their favor, versus $12,100, or $7.65 per vote spent by the GOP.

A quibble: That analysis appears to assume that voters stuck with party slates, as it is based on 1,684 votes for Dems (Menna, incumbent Councilman Art Murphy, and now-Councilman Michael DuPont), and 1,581 for Republicans (incumbent Councilman John Curley, who ran for mayor, and council candidates Grace Cangemi and David Pallister).

In fact, though, there were at least 4,857 combined votes for the Democrats, according to the Monmouth County Board of Elections website, and 4,635 cast for the Republicans. That brings the cost-per-vote down to $10.58 for the Dems and $2.61 for the GOP, though the ratio of spending is of course unchanged.

From the story:

It’s not the amount spent, but how the majority of the donations were made, that concerns Steve Fitzpatrick, a citizen watchdog from Red Bank. Donations of $300 and under don’t require reporting of the donor’s name, address or employer.

“The only time you see who is donating and who they work for is when they make a donation over $300,” Fitzpatrick said. “An engineering firm could buy 10 $300 tickets to a (campaign) dinner. They could be bought (individually) by employees. You wouldn’t know because it is hidden below the $300 threshold.”

In Red Bank, the majority of donations for both parties in 2006 were made in the $300-and-under category.

According to ELEC reports, Democrats collected $30,200 in donations made in amounts of $300 or lower. The GOP took in $8,180 in donations in the same category.

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