The Good, the Bad and the Money

I recently came across an article (link here) about the final total for money raised by candidates in the 2012 Tempe City elections. I’m a pretty visual person, so numbers mean more to me on a chart, so let’s take a quick look at what the final totals show.



These are the numbers presented in the article and as noted, I’ve included any money that was carried over from previous campaigns where appropriate. In the end, this is the amount of money each candidate had at their disposal for the 2012 election cycle. The “MFI” on the end? That’s the current amount of a family’s median household income in Tempe. I didn’t include it for any editorial purposes except to give some frame of reference for the amounts we’re looking at in this chart. It seems most council candidates are in the $50K-$80K range and the two final mayoral candidates really broke new ground for fundraising. Of course, there’s more to every story.


Now, here’s the vote totals for each candidate. Note I only used the general election totals for Monti, Mitchell, Foreman and Granville. Why? Any of them could have won outright in the primary and most of their voters are logically the same between the two elections. I tend to view your effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) on the number of votes you received in the election that either won you your office or kicked you out of the running. The point of doing this of course is to see what the cost per vote then is…


I think it would amaze anyone that it cost over $15 per vote to get elected mayor of Tempe. (Perhaps more so than the fact both candidates practically raising as many dollars as there are Tempe residents.) To me, there is one more compelling observation from this chart. Corey Woods (the highest vote getter in either the primary or general election) spent the second lowest amount on his votes. Why and how are topics for another story. But it shows that money isn’t necessarily the key to winning in Tempe. And finally…


One of the most curious parts of the article is noting the amount of money candidates spent themselves on their campaigns. It appears the three incumbents didn’t need to do this because they had money left over from previous campaigns (and had the name ID which provided immediate fundraising muscle). But I am shocked by the amount of money candidates personally invested in some of these races. Of particular interest is newly elected Councilman Kolby Granville who apparently chipped in a whopping 64% of his total campaign account (to the tune of $53,423). I have no problems with people spending their money as they wish – even when it comes to campaigns. I am somewhat concerned though when that percentage is over two thirds of their campaign total funding. And in this case, nearly more than the median family income in Tempe.  But most of all, it is troubling that a candidate who talked about “refusing all special-interest money” (link here) would instead, accept perhaps the single biggest special interest contribution in the history of Tempe City politics. The “special-interest” in this case being the candidate himself.

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  1. Ron Pies says:

    Rob, I appreciate your comments on the Tempe election. The costs are totally out of control. How many common citizens can afford to “loan” their campaign $50,000?

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