Friday, November 23, 2007

From the Money Talks, BS Walks Files

I think it is safe to say that E. J. Pipkin has higher aspirations that state senator in the minority party. He ran against Babs Mikulski for US Senate in a race that has been termed "spirited" but could equally be called "futile."

We've has a burst of stories (here | here) riffing off Brian's report that Senator Pipkin was tossing his hat into the ring to challenge Wayne Gilchrest for the congressional seat in MD-1.

There is no doubt that on paper Senator Pipkin is formidable candidate. He has strong ties to the Eastern Shore, high name recognition, and a fairly solid reputation within Republican circles. The question is neither if Senator Pipkin desires the seat (we most assuredly believe that he does) or if he could knock off Wayne Gilchrest (again we think he would have as good a chance as Andy Harris against a very weak Gilchrest in a two-man Republican primary) but whether he can actually mount a viable campaign at this late date. The filing period closes December 3. The primary is February 12. This gives him a week to get into the race, and 60 days until the vote is cast.

The obvious barrier to a Pipkin candidacy is money. While he has a lot of name recognition it is really hard to win a primary election against an opponent with a lot of money and name recognition using free media.

Most significant fundraisers in MD-1 have already signed on with the Harris campaign and he has the endorsement of former governor Bob Ehrlich.
Some of these fundraisers could jump ship but they would have their work cut out for them.

To be charitable, Pipkin is not a fundraising animal. In his run against Senator Mikulski he raised about $660,000 in individual contributions and loaned his campaign some $1.6 million of his own money. His financial report from January 2007 shows that he still has $570,000+ in outstanding loans to his state senatorial campaign and his FEC report shows that as of October 2007 he still had $1.618 million owed to him by his federal senate campaign committee.

All told Senator Pipkin has dropped $2.2 million of his own money on his political career.

Can he keep it up?

I'm not his accountant or his wife so I don't know. What seems certain is that if Mr. Pipkin decided to run he will have to do so on a self-financing basis through the primary. This will cost him another $500,000 if the fund raising by Mr. Gilchrest and Mr. Harris are any indication. If Mr. Pipkin takes this route it will trigger a provision in the campaign finance laws which will allow those contributors who have already maxed out their contributions to Mr. Harris to give more money.

If the primary goes Armageddon, it is worthwhile recalling that Mr. Harris is not exactly impoverished himself and as yet has not loaned his campaign money.

The reason Mr. Pipkin did not enter this race earlier was that he and Mr. Harris know that if they both run in the primary that only Mr. Gilchrest will benefit. Mr. Pipkin elected to sit out the race this summer.

At the time, however, Mr. Gilchrest didn't look as vulnerable as he looks (and presumably polls) today. While the vulnerability of Mr. Gilchrest may have changed, the basic calculus has not. With Harris and Pipkin in the primary Gilchrest wins and goes back to the yellow-stripe Republican caucus in the House.

It is difficult to see how Mr. Pipkin mounts a challenge at this late date that is anything more than a spoiler. He should stay out of the race and endorse Senator Harris.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why would a candidate spend 1.6 million of his own money to win a job that pays 150,000 a year (US Senator)?

Or for that matter, why would a candidate spend $570,000 to win a job that pays $40,000 a year (State Senate)?

After losing 2.2 million of his money, why would he spend another $250,000 or more to win a US Congress seat?

I can tell you that I would no longer be married if I spent that kinda money on politics (assuming I had 2.5 million dollar which is an incorrect assumption).

Any man who is willing to spend that much of his own money to be in politics must be in it for the wrong reasons and won't get my vote.

bud said...

IMO, E.J. Pipkin brings a lot more to the table than Andy Harris. In reality, I think Pipkin intended on entering all along. Seizing an opportunity, Harris jumped in and acted as if he's the new sheriff. That really turned me off to him. Also, I have it on good word that the Harris people are harassing (and even threatening) elected republican delegates and senators for endorsements. Pipkin has paid his dues. Harris has not.

Anonymous said...

Bud,

Can you explain the "Pipkin paid his dues" argument?

I see it a little different than you do.

Pipkin elected in 2002. Harris in 1998.

Harris served as Minority Whip. Pipkin has never served in a position of leadership as far as I know.

Harris helped other Senators get elected in the last cycle in Maryland. What has Pipkin done for the party?

If anything, Harris has been the one who has paid his dues, but that is just my opinion. That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee (not at Starubucks).

I am not sure why Harris' folks would need to harass Senators or Delegates. Newspapers have reported he already has been endorsed by 7 of the 8 State Senators and I think I read 8 or 9 delegates.

Martin Watcher said...

I would agree that Harris has done more to "pay his dues". Look at the amount of money that Andy Harris raised for state Republican challengers in the last election. Harris, Mooney and Kittleman (to a lesser degree) were the ones out there raising cash and trying to get Republicans elected. I think EJ makes a good State Senator, and would make a good Congressman. His problem though, as anyone who volunteered with his US Senate campaign will tell you, is that he is an ass. He needs to learn how to do that fake politician smile and be happy and make everyone around him think that he is thrilled to be with them and greatful for whatever tiny amount of help they will provide. In other words, he's just a bad candidate. It's as if his attitude is more of a "What have you done for me lately."

Observer said...

Pipkin is a bright guy, but he shouldn't waste his time entering now. Playing spoiler won't win him any seats at the table--it'll simply disenfranchise any potential future supporters he could have had. He built some support behind himself and he'd squander it by entering the race. He's surely smart enough to see that.

Anonymous said...

Anon #1 says that he would never vote for anyone who would spend that much money to get elected to those positions because he is in it for the wrong reasons...

My only comment on that is maybe he feels that if he can serve in those positions he could make a difference. Maybe he believes that because he has the wealth to be able to give all of his time and energy to those positions, and not have to worry about what the position pays, just that he can effect positive change and make a difference in this messed up world.

I have looked at his bio and I also thought that it was odd that a millionaire would leave a highpaying wallstreet job to come back to his home state to workon some open bay dumping crap. But the more I thought about it, I kind of felt that we need more people in politics, not less, and if this guy has good ideas and wants to serve, why not.

I don't know if I will vote for him, but I give him credit for putting his money where his mouth is, and I am glad that he beat Walter Baker, and I wish he had beat Mikulski.

Anonymous said...

I have had the chance to be in a great deal of situations with both Pipkin and Harris. And I would agree that in public, Andy Harris is a polite and affable guy. I have also had the opportunity to observe Harris in some private meetings, and very intense heat-of-the-battle moments. I have to say that becasue of some of the things I have seen in those meetings, I will never vote for him. To name just a few, he has:
1)berated women
2)spoken down to subordinates
3)threatened people when he did not get his way
4)lied to get what he wanted
5)and promised people very unsavory things so that they would do what he wanted

None of these things were illegal,or probably would be looked at as truly unethical in todays political process, but that is not why I a writing them.

On the other hand, I have never witnessed things such as this from Pipkin. In both public settings and private settings he has never exibited the kinds of meanspirited and nasty things that I have seen from Harris.

I am not perfect, and I would venture to say that none of here are, but I wil never vote for Andy Harris becasue of the things that I have seen from him.

honestaby said...

Pipkin enters - Wayne wins!

So I am just curious as to the real motive behind Mr. Pipkin's timing and "pondering" wether or not to run? There is a little more here then meets the eye...

Anonymous said...

Honest Aby,
your assumption that Wayne wins if Pipkin enters the race is based on what eveidence? What if Gilchrest drops out? What if Harris drops out? What if the people of Dist. 1 have had enough of Wayne, and don't have the first clue who the hell Andy Harris is, but they do know E.J. Pipkin?
I think that we should all just vote for the candidate that we think will best represent us in Congress and then we will be alright.

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