How do you make political fundraising lemons into lemonade?
Utah State GOP Chairman James Evans thinks he’s found a way.
As reported previously in UtahPolicy, Evans found himself between a rock and a hard place after being elected the state’s top Republican last summer – he had to fundraise from the state GOP’s big donor list while trying to uphold his dedication to the caucus/convention system.
A number of well-to-do Republicans, who could be counted upon for $10,000, $25,000 or even larger donations to help the state party not only keep the lights on at state HQ, but also to provide grassroots candidate help and cash, supported the Count My Vote citizen initiative petition.
The CMV petition could have dumped the party caucus/convention system candidate nominating process in favor of a direct primary.
These heavy-hitters – you can see their CMV contributions here – weren’t about to give big money to the state Republican Party only to see the party spend money trying to defeat Count My Vote.
Evans had a thin line to walk.
He ended up NOT spending any state party money against CMV.
But as well-known GOP organizers – and a few county parties – opposed CMV financially, there was a bad taste left in the mouths of many “you can count on me” big GOP donors this past year.
While the SB54 “grand compromise” may have ended the self-imposed GOP big donor boycott, Evans doesn’t want future state Republican Party leaders to be bent over the same fundraising barrel.
So, now Evans is trying to turn lemons into lemonade.
He’s starting what he calls a “continuing donor sustaining” support program.
As the state GOP convention approaches April 26, Evans will be sending out emails and other communications asking serious-minded, rank-and-file Republicans to sign up for the program.
Donate $50 to the state GOP and you become a “sustaining” Republican.
Nice word to use just after the LDS Church’s annual general conference.
“There could be no more appropriate time,” Evans tells UtahPolicy.
“We all saw the major (GOP) donors giving $25,000, even $50,000 to Count My Vote,” says Evans – who may be having some big-donor envy about now.
“We have to diversify our revenue stream” at the state party level, says Evans.
“We need to bring in the hundreds of thousands of every-day Republicans.”
Perhaps coincidentally, Utah’s leading public radio station – KUER – is this week conducting its semi-annual, over-the-air, fundraising.
And because of the 3,500 “sustaining” memberships it has sold over the last few years, KUER (much to the appreciation of wake-up listeners like yours truly) has cut two days out of its membership fundraising this spring.
Evans wants to see the same thing: Dedicated GOP members agreeing to donate $50 a year to the cause of electing more Republicans to Utah offices.
“We can now” -- because of CMV big donors withholding some funds this year -- “make the case that the rank-and-file need to contribute,” said Evans.
Still unclear if you will get a GOP mug, or an elephant paperweight, or a “free” Sen. Orrin Hatch CD or tickets to the next big Republican event where a Howard Berkes look-alike talks about evil coal mine owners.
Wait, these are Republicans. Probably not be bashing coal mine owners.
In any case, stay tuned.