“Next week” finally arrived for Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater. The GOP hopeful on Monday filed several thousand $5 contributions needed to qualify for public campaign financing — after months of saying he was close.
State officials still need to verify the donations. Once they do, the cash-strapped campaign will get more than $450,000 to spend before the Republican primary in September.
But with less than a week until early voting begins, the questions remains: Can the extra money carry Goldwater to victory, or is it a case of “too little too late?”
“It’s not too late,” Goldwater said. “I’ve got great name recognition, and, as I’ve pointed out, I’ve got a great message and Arizonans know that.”
Goldwater turned in more than enough $5 contributions to qualify as a publicly funded candidate. His campaign gathered 4,672 individual contributions, which is more than the minium 4,200 needed to qualify.
Goldwater, the nephew of former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, has maintained a lead over the three other GOP candidates in early polling.
But for the past two months, his campaign had been struggling to amass the $5 contributions needed to qualify.
When asked when he expected to file, the toughtalking Republican would always say “sometime next week.”
Campaign volunteers took a lot of time to scrutinize the contributions to ensure each of the $5 donations met the approval of the Secretary of State’s office, Goldwater said.
That, he said, was the reason it took so long to file. Now, if all goes well, Goldwater could have the money within 10 days. But don’t expect a massive high-profile media blitz. Goldwater officials said they plan to continue running a grass-roots race, meaning phone calls, a few signs and “pressing the flesh.”
But some political consultants — including GOP operatives — said the extra cash doesn’t mean Goldwater will lock up the Republican nomination. In fact, they said he faces a political dogfight, particularly against Len Munsil — the only other GOP candidate to have received public financing.
The other two candidates — Mike Harris and Gary Tupper — are running traditional campaigns and haven’t raised much money.
“In my view, the challenge is to make sure voters get the ballots in hand and show up to the polls,” said Doug Cole, a Republican political consultant.
To do that, Cole said the candidates need to be spending money now, before early ballots are sent out Thursday. Under the best-case scenario, the Goldwater campaign won’t get its money until a week after voters begin marking their early ballots.
Arizona State University professor and political pollster Bruce Merrill agrees. He said the turnout is expected to be low for the primary, which means rightwing and religious conservatives will decide the race, Merrill said.