Happy Campaign Reporting Day!

Erica Holloway Erica Holloway 2 Comments


It’s Christmas Day!

OK- maybe not Christmas, but it’s still deadline day for the much-anticipated first campaign fundraising reporting period and all eyes are on the 2012 San Diego mayoral race.

With less than a month at the old grindstone, politicos wait with breath that is baited to see who made it rain.

The “ask” ain’t easy. Most candidates say fundraising kills the entire campaigning experience for them. You give the same stump over and over again in living rooms answering the same questions trying to keep it interesting. After a while, you start to hate the sound of your own voice.

But it’s the job they all signed up for and most of the time, your first contact with a donor is through a fundraising letter. These days, emails offer candidates the most cash-efficient way to make the “ask.”

Of course, nothing supplements the good-old dialing-for-dollars to friends and family. If you can’t ask a friend for $500, then getting a stranger’s support will be much harder.

Over the last few weeks, all three Republican mayoral candidates – Councilman Carl DeMaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher – each sent out six “ask” emails. (If I missed any, I apologize.)

Strange, right? I’d get one from one candidate, iPhone would buzz and I’d get one from another candidate. It’s like they knew …

All the emails cover the same ground: invites recipients to fundraisers and donate online.

But that’s where the similarities end.

The subject lines alone signal how incredibly different these three approach fundraising.

Dumanis used the word “mayor” in virtually every subject line except the last one which read: “A Special Message from Bonnie Dumanis.”

Conversely, only one of Fletcher’s included the word mayor in the subject line and it was from former California Governor and San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson with the subject line: “Pete Wilson: Why I Support Nathan Fletcher for Mayor.” None of DeMaio’s ask emails used the word “mayor” in the subject line.

Unsurprisingly, Dumanis’ fundraising emails use very formal language starting with “Dear …” and ending with “Sincerely…” Each takes time building a case for the ask and she references her campaign website, upcoming events and gives the campaign office location and phone contact information. She didn’t use any art or website collateral formatting. She’s sticking with a tried and true fundraising approach, as any establishment candidate would.

Fletcher’s emails all begin simply with the recipient’s name and sign off “Sempre Fi.” His letters also build a case for the ask, but they strike a far less formal tone than does the Dumanis letters. Only the Wilson email used his website’s art and collateral, which looked pretty slick. He also links to his website and contact information.

DeMaio’s emails skip all formalities and do not build a case for the ask. He just knows you want to donate. No two emails look similar, follow any format or even address the recipient though some include his typical sign-off: “In Service…” A couple of the emails used the website art collateral format and looked nice, but they were not “letters” per se.

As opposed to the other two, DeMaio’s letters are decidedly aggressive. The last email started off: “Just checking in – can we get your help with donations today or tomorrow?” and a couple sentences later suggested the donor invite a volunteer over for a quick check pick-up.

Interestingly, one of the DeMaio emails had the subject line: “RE: Follow-up on June 29.” However, no original email to which that email referred existed. Confounding.

Personally, I appreciate the time and thought put into each of Dumanis’ asks and commend her for sticking with a formal tone.

Lesson to candidates: You’re asking for $500, not to hang out after work. Let’s keep it professional.

I received one snail-mail fundraising letter from DeMaio, which stated he will again be matching donors dollar-for-dollar. That’s certainly something of a concern for his opponents. With the heavy amount of events DeMaio booked this month, he could easily start off with the lead.

But this ain’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And fundraisers worth their sand could make up the difference with a solid, consistent plan.

Boy, oh boy! I can just hardly wait to see those totals.

Time to put out my Santa cookies …

– Follow me @erica_holloway.


Comments 2

  1. Erica, in addition to the emails you cited plus the mailer from Carl DeMaio, I also received a mail piece from Nathan Fletcher, plus an email fundraising pitch from Bob Filner. One of the joys of not being registered as either Democrat or Republican is that I get it all.

    Nathan’s letter was addressed by hand, not robo but the real deal. Other than the “Fletcher for Mayor” logo at the top, it was three full pages of rather dense text. Fletcher would be better served with good photos of himself in uniform, with his family, and with his credentials boiled down to a few bona fides, on a single sheet of paper front and back. MEGO, Nathan.

    Filner’s email on the other hand was crisp, good looking and to the point. With the subject line “It’s Official,” the email hits with a simple logo in bold colors, easy to read font and lots of friendly white space. The story about Bob’s arrest as a Freedom Rider during the civil rights movement is presented as a sidebar, complete with Bob’s mugshots from back in the day. Eyecatching and compelling.

    As far back as January, I predicted Filner will win this race. Based on the fundraising approaches so far, Filner’s done everything right to strengthen my case.

    I also received an email at 2 p.m. today (June 30) from Representative Tom McClintock, subject line “Only A Couple of Hours Left To Help.” It’s a super sharp looking full color email with a Stars and Stripes theme header, set against a dark blue background. After discussing the battle for Congress ahead, the email concludes:

    “Tonight is the deadline to file a crucial fundraising report with the Federal Elections Commission. Your generous contribution today will allow me to send a message of strength to potential challengers so that I can continue to focus on defending our principles. I would be honored if you helped me raise my re-election budget as quickly as possible, so that I, in turn, can help bring more conservatives to Washington to fulfill the work that we began two years ago.

    “Can you help by contributing by midnight tonight?”

    Our mayoral candidates could learn a thing or two from McClintock.

  2. Post

    Dear Gayle:

    Our mayoral candidates could learn a thing or two or three from Mr. McClintock. I received the same fund-raising email and after the slew in the last 24 hours from our local pool, I found his email a breath of fresh air.

    Interesting to hear about the Fletcher snail mail; that’s entirely true. As an old news dog turned flack, I completely agree with the single-page approach. And yes, he’d be well-served to share a few more pictures of that handsome mug.

    Oh, Mr. Filner. He’s doing it right. I hate to admit it, but as you told me yesterday, he’s getting out there and playing to his strengths.

    Please, GOP get out there and work it. I’d hate to lose a bet against a Libertarian; you know how they don’t forget a wager.



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