Bowerbank’s campaign is raking in the big bucks.

Jon BowerbankJon Bowerbank has out-raised all of his competition for Lieutenant Governor, and by a long shot—$500k to Jody Wagner’s $400k! Sweet Jesus! That’s amazing! It sounds like everybody should just drop out of the race.

What’s that now? He what? He gave himself that money? Well, that can’t be true. Check out the press release from his campaign:

Bowerbank Dominates Democratic LG Race in Total Money Received, Cash on Hand
Brings In Over $100,000 More Than Closest Opponent, Out-raises Incumbent Republican

Alexandria, VA – The campaign of Lieutenant Governor candidate Jon Bowerbank today announced that it has received more than $494,000 during the first quarter reporting period, leading his nearest competitor by over $100,000. Bowerbank also has more than $431,000 cash on hand, more than any other Democratic lieutenant governor candidate in the race.

“The numbers from this reporting period show Jon emerging as the leader in this three-way race,” Bowerbank campaign manager Jon Paul Lupo said. “He leads in money received, cash on hand, and campaign organization. The campaign collected the most petition signatures of any statewide candidate, our staff and volunteers placed thousands more signs than our closest competitors at Shad Planking in Wakefield this week, and Jon’s message of developing a new energy economy in Virginia is catching on with voters. And Jon will be able to spread that message throughout the Commonwealth better than any other candidate in the campaign. It is clear that Jon Bowerbank is the best candidate to beat Bill Bolling in November.”

See, there’s not a word in there about Jon Bowerbank moving money from one pocket to another. And that seems like the sort of thing that you’d call up in a press release, because every reporter in the state is familiar with VPAP, so they’re just going to check. Ergo, that can’t be true. Check and mate.

Whaaaaa…?!?! Wait, of the $494,000 that Bowerbank raised…$400,000 of that came from himself?

So how much did he really raise? $51,000. Ouch. That’s…woo. That’s pretty bad. And $5,150 of that came from Bowerbank himself? Wow. So he actually raised somewhere around $46,000. That’s…man…some city councilors raised more than that in the past few months.

There’s nothing wrong with candidates substantially funding their own campaigns. (Unless it’s your guy’s opponent doing it. Then it’s evil. Exhibit A: Terry McAuliffe.) But when they use their money as a substitute for actual support, or to provide the appearance of support where there is none, that’s a sign of a fatally flawed campaign. In 2001 Mark Warner pumped millions into his own race, but not until October, and not as a means of feigning support, but to supplement his own already-healthy coffers.

With Bowerbank moving money around and calling it income, I have to wonder what energy company his experience is with. It sounds a lot like Enron to me.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

12 replies on “Bowerbank’s campaign is raking in the big bucks.”

  1. The more successful that Democrats become in Virginia, the more insufferable that they’ll become. It’s inevitable. There’s a purity of mission and an honesty of ideals that comes with being down significantly. That’s really the only kind of Democrat that I know how to be (or want to be).

  2. I suddenly understand the whole party purity thing the Republicans have been killing themselves with for the past five years. Okay, huddle up Democrats — we need a purity test, but it can’t be about gun control or how earnest you are about global warming or who thought the Iraq War was a dumb idea first. Our purity test needs to have only one question:


  3. It seems like Bowerbank was just saying that he won the money on hand war. Who cares if a lot of it is his own money. At least he’s willing to put his own money behind his campaign.

  4. I think I was pretty clear about this, Sarah, but I can give it another shot, I suppose.

    There are two things demonstrated by fundraising. The first is the level of support enjoyed by a candidate. A candidate who cannot raise a dime is not likely to get many votes. A candidate who can significantly outraise his opponents is likely to do well. Generally, the race is won by the candidate who raises the most money. The second thing demonstrated by fundraising (in a primary) is the candidate’s ability to defeat his general election opponent.

    When a candidate funds his own campaign to such an overwhelming degree, what he’s doing is fabricating the appearance of popularity where no such popularity exists. Though that’s not inherently so, a press release like this is, on its face, written to lead the reader to believe that Jon Bowerbank’s fundraising indicates electoral support. (“The numbers from this reporting period show Jon emerging as the leader in this three-way race.” The only way to be a “leader” in a political race is to get the most votes, so we can see here a deliberate attempt to conflate fundraising and popular support.)

    The fact that an LG candidate can raise $500,000 in a primary tells us that he can fundraise successfully in the general election, which is a compelling reason to support that candidate. But that’s an incorrect conclusion to draw here. If anything, the opposite conclusion makes more sense—Bowerbank now has hundreds of thousands of dollars less money, personally, and may well now be less able to fund his own campaign in the general election. Having failed to demonstrate that he’s able to generate contributions from the public, that’s a significant liability.

    No matter how you slice it, this method of fundraising in the primary is a sign of weakness. When combined with the press release from the campaign, I can only conclude that the campaign knows it’s a weakness, hence their false claim that Bowerbank’s fundraising lead is correlated with an increased likelihood of electoral victory.

  5. I sort of agree with what you’re saying there. But I think it’s more like there’s a committed core primarily (though not entirely) composed of individuals with honest values – as good of a metric as any. Then in good times a substantial number of insufferables as you call them detect opportunity, glom on and dominate or even overwhelm the community psyche by shear numbers. The focus shifts to 3-ring-circuses and what not, thereby modifying the collective culture in a negative way. Something like that.

    What changes is the proportions in good leadership vs. fluffy leadership. Double the number of “leaders” with the fluff variety, and a classic mixture problem => succumbing to the rising tide of mediocrity.

    This is different than a “power corrupts” paradigm that seems to happen at an individual level. So the purity idea is relevant; you can go from 90% competent on a small number to 45% competent on a larger number in one or two elections.

  6. He is the CEO of E-MATS, Inc., what he calls an “energy services” company in Southwest Virginia.

    E-MATS says that they design and build natural gas, utility and oil infrastructure (which, I take it, means “pipelines”). They have 220 employees, and operate in 18 states across the country.

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