A wide gap in campaign cash separates candidates for Clark County Commission with three months until the general election, but nowhere is it more stark than in two races featuring well-funded incumbents running against opponents who have yet to raise a single cent.
Commissioner Michael Naft and Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, both Democrats facing Republican or third-party challengers in November, collectively have more than $1 million in cash on hand as of June 30, according to campaign finance disclosures that detail activity during the first six months of this year.
By contrast, neither Naft’s opponent in District A, Republican Michael Thomas, nor Kirkpatrick’s two challengers in District B, Republican Kevin Williams and Warren Markowitz, an Independent American Party member, reported having any available cash from donors halfway through 2020.
“Putting a third name in the mix and putting a position in front of people becomes difficult when you don’t have the capital resources,” said Markowitz, who is a self-employed attorney and chairman of the county Independent American Party.
As lesser-funded candidates face an uphill effort to topple incumbents on an all-Democratic commission spending big on advertising and consultants, they say that they expect to be more active in fundraising as the November election draws nearer.
Markowitz said that timing would be critical to stretch limited resources while acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic had made running a campaign more difficult.
He and other candidates agreed that the expenses of a traditional campaign — canvassing neighborhoods and hosting special events, for example — would be shifted to digital advertising. But Thomas, who downplayed the role of money in the race, noted there was perhaps a silver lining.
“As much as I can’t get out there, (Naft) can’t get out there either, so it kind of levels the playing field,” he said.
Big margin in District D
The contest for District D doesn’t look much different: Democratic Assemblyman William McCurdy II reported just less than $50,000 in his war chest but he has also collected more than $150,000 from donors during the first six months of 2020.
Former Las Vegas Fire Chief David Washington, an independent candidate for the seat, presently occupied by term-limited Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, reported having nearly $12,000 in cash on hand and raising close to $7,000 over the same period.
Washington said he was seeking contributions, in part, by word of mouth. His donor roll reveals a list of nearly four dozen individuals who have given $500 or less, filings show.
“Basically you can say that my campaign is a full-blown grassroots-type effort,” he said.
Stanley Washington, a third challenger who is also an independent, reported not receiving any contributions midway through 2020, according to filings.
Meanwhile, nonprofit director Henry Thorns did not qualify to appear on the ballot because he did not collect enough signatures during candidate filing. He cast blame on the county for misdirecting him when he went into the filing office for assistance, which the county disputes.
District C most financially competitive
Of the four contests in play this election cycle, only the race for term-limited Commissioner Larry Brown’s seat in District C seems thus far to be financially competitive: Republican Las Vegas Councilman Stavros Anthony has narrowly outraised former Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller during the first half of 2020.
Anthony reported close to $104,000 in contributions as of June 30, while Miller had collected more than $94,000, according to filings. But Anthony has also far outspent Miller and carries a considerably larger amount of cash moving forward.
Anthony, who did not face a challenger in the primary election, said he has spent about $264,000 so far in 2020 and maintains a war chest of nearly $212,000, according to filings. Miller, who handily defeated five Democratic primary opponents in June, reported spending more than $90,000 with only about $3,600 in cash on hand.
The general election is Nov. 3. Early voting begins Oct. 17.