Hodges campaign budget deficit started in March

Mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges’ campaign has been running a budget deficit for more than half the year, according to an MPR News analysis of campaign finance reports filed earlier this month.

The campaigns have reported their fundraising and expenditures through almost the end of August, and those data show Hodges’ campaign has been spending more than it raised since March.

MPR Graphic/Curtis Gilbert

The analysis could explain why Hodges made three loans to her campaign in June, July and August totaling $21,500. Hodges also had almost $54,000 in unpaid bills dating back to March — the same month expenses began to exceed revenues.

The chart above includes both the unpaid bills (as liabilities) and the loans from the candidate (as income). It also takes into account almost $18,000 in contributions the campaign didn’t itemize, because the law doesn’t require it to do so. Since there are no dates associated with those donations, MPR News spread them evenly over the eight-month period.

Hodges’ campaign says a large up-front investment in field organizing contributed to red ink.

“We’re very happy and very satisfied with where we are,” Campaign Manager Andy O’Leary said. “We will be in the black on the day we need to be in the black, which is election day.”

While the analysis paints a picture of a campaign struggling to make ends meet, it also shows Hodges’ fundraising machine picked up steam last month. As the campaign finance reporting deadline neared, Hodges’ fundraising surged.

Hodges nearly closed the budget gap by Aug. 27, the last day covered in the reports, ending less than $3,000 in the hole. She began the month more than $30,000 behind.

Several other campaigns also got a financial boost in August. Deadlines appear to motivate political donors, just like public radio members on the last day of a pledge drive.

MPR Graphic/Curtis Gilbert Gilbert

Former Council President Jackie Cherryhomes also spent much of the year in the red, but she was never as deeply in debt as Hodges.

Cherryhomes also gave her campaign a significant loan — more than $30,000 — on the final day of the reporting period. That allowed her to show more financial strength heading into the final nine weeks of the campaign.

A few of the leading candidates aren’t included in this analysis. Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine and businesswoman Stephanie Woodruff each had modest revenues and expenditures, which would barely register on the bar graph.

Former City Council President Dan Cohen posted huge campaign spending numbers, but most of the money came out of his own pocket. So charting his fundraising wouldn’t have been particularly interesting.