The Bob Poppenga campaign put out a release yesterday highlighting strong first half fundraising numbers for the second-time challenger. The numbers are a little dated, as the filing period ended June 30, but it seems the media, Vanguard included, missed the early filing.
The release states, “Bob Poppenga has raised twice as much in monetary gifts as the three other candidates for the Davis School Board in the November election combined, according to the latest campaign disclosure statements.”
Mr. Poppenga raised $8,719, while Susan Lovenburg, who is running for her third term on the School Board, raised $4,360, for the period from January 1 to June 30, 2016. Neither Alan Fernandes nor Jose Granda raised any money during the period (of course, neither had even filed their papers as of August 1 – so there’s that).
The release noted that Bob Poppenga received funds from 42 individuals or couples, while Susan Lovenburg received funds from 24 individuals or couples. Susan Lovenburg also loaned her campaign $2,708, while Bob Poppenga loaned his campaign $420.
I have three takes out of all this – and remember, it is early, we are only heading to Labor Day, the traditional start of fall campaigns. We are also hosting a candidates forum on September 18, from 6 pm to 8 pm at Community Chambers.
First, make no mistake, Bob Poppenga is all in on this one. He finished fourth just behind Tom Adams two years ago, has kept his presence up in the community since then, and, while knocking off an incumbent is tough, he is positioned to do so. His strong early showing is testament to this.
Second, I really wouldn’t make a huge deal out of the campaign loans received. We saw this in the city council election – the campaigns were leaning less on contributions and more on personal loans. Fact is, Brett Lee put in a relatively large loan to his campaign and didn’t raise a huge amount of money. He then went out and walked the town more than any other candidate and he killed it in terms of outcome – he had one of the most dominating showings ever.
Lesson learned is that money doesn’t win in Davis. You need enough money to do the things you need: print brochures, do one mailer, have lawn signs and campaign ads – and then you win by walking.
As far as we know, Bob Poppenga and his campaign team are the only ones walking so far. My home was already subjected to a visit from Mr. Poppenga’s campaign team. So, as much as the money showing is good, the walking is where he is going to win it.
That leads to the question – which incumbent is more vulnerable? On paper, we assessed perhaps Susan Lovenburg. Why? We noted that incumbents running for a third term in Davis start to falter. We don’t have recent data in the school district, but we can look at Sue Greenwald, who barely hung on for a third term in 2008 and then lost a fourth attempt in 2012; Stephen Souza who finished fifth out of five in 2012; and even Sheila Allen, who served nine years on the school board and then finished fourth running for council in 2014.
With longevity comes a buildup of negatives, and for Susan that means being in an awkward position on the Nancy Peterson saga, including being the co-author of the letter asking people to calm down (which I still believe is what did Sheila Allen in), and now the AIM struggle.
While those issues could make it interesting for Susan Lovenburg, I think if I were Alan Fernandes, I would start worrying more.
Alan Fernandes comes to the community with solid credentials. He ran in 2012 for school board, but finished third behind Susan Lovenburg and Nancy Peterson. Nancy Peterson then resigned following a two-month long saga involving the DHS volleyball program.
Alan Fernandes was appointed to fill her spot until November. Mr. Fernandes then had to run for election on the same ballot but a different spot than the rest of the field running for three open seats. So why run for a two-year seat against an appointed incumbent when you can run for a four-year seat with three openings – and that’s what happened, seven people filed for the full term and only Alan Fernandes filed for the two-year seat.
Alan Fernandes basically didn’t campaign two years ago. So now we have Alan Fernandes, an incumbent who lost in 2012, was appointed and ran unopposed in 2014, and what has he done this year? He filed right at the campaign filing deadline and hasn’t raised any money as of June.
While surely his recent fundraiser brought cash into his coffers, a reasonable question will be asked as to how hard he will work. He has a demanding day job and he’s going to clearly get out-worked by Bob Poppenga.
It should make for an interesting race.
—David M. Greenwald reporting