If money is an indication, Democrat Harry Perkinson is facing a steep uphill battle in the race for the 4th Congressional District.
While there are races in which money isn't the largest consideration, political analyst G. Terry Madonna said Perkinson might not have raised enough money to even break the threshold for competition.
State Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, is outraising and outspending his Democratic opponent by considerable margins. The Republican raised more than 6 times more money over the past three months, with Patriots for Perry logging more than $115,000 in donations for the reporting period from April 1 through June 30, according to reports due to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday.
Perry has raised
Most of Perkinson's donations are from individual donors. Both men have lent their campaigns thousands of dollars of their own money.
Spending: Perry spent more than $187,000 over the past three months, compared to Perkinson's $20,000 in campaign expenditures. But both men closed the reporting period with about the same amount of cash on hand. Perry had nearly $12,000, compared to Perkinson's $9,581.25.
In addition to lawn signs and mailing expenses, Perry's expenditures included more than $125,000 in media and advertising buys from outlets such as Media One PA, Strategic Media Placement, and WGET/WGTY Radio.
Perkinson spent at least $5,000 on consulting, but didn't make any media buys.
Competition? Madonna said the numbers aren't surprising, as the 4th is a heavily Republican district and considered by analysts to be a safe Republican seat.
Though the district isn't completely lopsided in registration, Madonna said the perception of Republican strength is enough to discourage some Democratic donors.
"(Perkinson is) an underdog with or without the money," he said. "Even if it were reversed and he had six times as much money as Perry, he would still be the underdog."
Madonna said money isn't always the most important aspect of a race, citing Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.'s substantial 2006 victory over former senator Rick Santorum, despite the Republican having outraised and outspent the Democrat by millions.
But Madonna said there is a "threshold amount" a candidate needs to spend in order to be effective to buy media and compete for voters, and he doesn't think Perkinson has met it.
"In a congressional race with over 600,000 in the district, is that enough money? I don't think it's enough money to communicate with a large number of voters."
Madonna said Perkinson needs to figure out a way to make people contribute and find a way to reach voters at a low cost, making appearances and creating attention-getting devices to get "free media" for his campaign.
"And he needs to be on the present, meaning, be everywhere," he said.
Perkinson said he's been working shoe leather instead of money, sitting down with groups and individuals and spreading his message grass roots.
He said Perry is a "professional career politician."
"He's tapped into the system, and I'm an engineer," he said. "I don't have the same resources at my disposal. I just have to keep getting out there and trying to find rich Democrats and that's tough to do in this district. It is a big issue and obviously it's something that needs to be addressed very forcefully if we're going to have a chance."
Perkinson said he has been endorsed by several unions and is expecting some PAC money around Labor Day.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.