Friday, August 11, 2006

Westlund "post game" prattle

I'm feeling somewhat better today. Perhaps all that excitement from yesterday fed endorphans into my system and set the healing process into a full court press. Or maybe the meds are finally kicking in. Either way, something seems to be working.

TJ already provided a roundup of stuff from yesterday regarding the various stories we've been covering. But my interest is keenly focused on Westlund's exit from the goobernor race.

Westlund's announcement was unsurprisingly philanthropic sounding. He said he wanted to drop out so as not to play the role of spoiler. That may have been a factor in his decision making process--but I doubt that's the main reason for his withdrawal.

Tim Hibbits offers a diplomatic but not unreasonable analysis, pushing the idea that the numbers just weren't there for Ben to win. I agree with Tim..but I think he's leaving out the main factor: money.

A check of the C&E reports for Westlund, Saxton and Kulongoski tell the story.

Westlund had raised just $430k (PDF). At the mid July reporting mark, he had $111k cash on hand. Saxton has raised $1.7 million with $175k on hand. Kulongoski has raised $1.4 million with $373k on hand.

Keeping in mind that Saxton had a tough primary, he's still got more money than Westlund, with a lot more avenues to big fundraising before the general election. Kulongoski has a huge cash on hand advantage even with the primary, which wasn't an easy road either. Ted also has access to a good fundraising infrastructure between now and the general.

Westlund had no primary and as far as I can tell spent only $10k on collecting his needed signatures. Yet he still managed to burn through $319k. He could certainly still fundraise, but not with nearly the kind of heft of his opponents.

And that's a lot of cash for a guy who didn't have a primary and wasn't even on the ballot yet. I imagine that some potential donors may have been looking at his spending and wondering if money was being spent effectively.

Given the fact that nobody carried his press conference live--it seems that Westlund still had a long way to go in terms of statewide name recognition.

After spending a good part of the afternoon chatting with political insiders about Westlund, I'm thinking his decision came down to the almighty dollar. Or lack thereof.

I've heard speculation that Westlund dropped out after making a deal with Kulongoski for an appointment, perhaps Secretary of State. That's possible--but not likely, IMO. The more plausible scenario is that Westlund will switch to the D's (eventually) and run outright for SoS, Treasurer or maybe Attorney General. Or if he gets to be high profile enough, maybe he'll run for Senate against Gordon Smith (which I think is very intriguing). There's no way he can make a serious run at a big office without a major party. He needs the infrastructure to help fundraise and to draw an effective campaign staff.