Lindy Blanchard touts financial independence as an ‘advantage’ in gubernatorial race
Lindy Blanchard has spent far more money than any other candidate, including Governor Kay Ivey, in the Republican primary race for governor of Alabama.
The source of this money, however, is somewhat unusual.
In attempting to unseat incumbent Ivey as well as defeat Tim James and five other challengers, Blanchard has essentially funded his own campaign – receiving only a fraction of his opponents’ financial support while spending it.
Related: Gas tax emerges as issue in Alabama governor race
Related: There’s no shortage of trouble, but can anyone bring down Alabama Governor Kay Ivey?
Since dropping out of the Alabama Senate GOP primary and entering the gubernatorial race in December, Blanchard — the former ambassador to Slovenia under the Trump administration — has loaned $7.8 million. dollars to his campaign. This is in addition to the $5 million with which she seeded her Senate campaign.
Blanchard used that money to overtake Ivey by more than $2 million as of March 31.
During this time, Ivey and James did not loan their campaigns any money. However, James said he received two loans in December from supporters totaling $700,000. A $500,000 loan came from Guice Slawson, a Montgomery forestry executive. And a $200,000 loan came from John McInnis III, a construction CEO in Orange Beach whose family is the majority owner of the Flora-Bama beach bar.
According to state campaign finance reports, Blanchard has spent more than $6.3 million so far, including $5 million spent on advertising. This exceeds spending by Ivey ($4.2 million including $2.8 million spent on advertising) and James ($2.2 million including $2 million spent on advertising).
As of the end of the most recent reporting deadline at the end of March, Ivey had the most cash on hand at $1.7 million. Blanchard was close behind with $1.5 million and James followed with over $627,000. Major contributions reported by campaigns since the last reporting deadline through Wednesday bolstered Ivey’s cash advantage. The Governor now has over $2.6 million remaining while Blanchard has nearly $1.5 million and James has $777,000.
Fundraising by Blanchard, Ivey and James far exceeds the other five Republican primary candidates – Lew Burdette, Stacy Lee George, Dean Odle, James David Thomas II and Dean Young – whose combined cash is still more than $330,000 to what James has in his coffers.
Blanchard’s self-funding strategy has been supplemented by contributions from just 14 people over the past four months, raising $51,900. These 14 individual contributions came from nine different addresses, which means that in five cases, several people at the same address made contributions.
By comparison, Ivey regularly receives dozens of contributions from individuals each month, while James’ list of contributors has grown since he entered the race in December. In March alone, Ivey reported receiving 98 individual contributions and James reported 93. These individual contributions are separate from corporate or political action committee donations, which Ivey and James have received.
But Blanchard did not. All of her money in the campaign comes from personal loans or from her small group of individual contributors, which she touted as an “incredible inherent advantage”.
“It’s easy to criticize someone who has done so well in business that he is able to finance a campaign on his own like I did,” Blanchard said in a statement to AL.com. “However, there is an incredible inherent benefit that is overlooked by simply focusing on the number of donors.
“In the case of Alabama’s gubernatorial race, two of the three candidates are almost entirely funded by special interests – and many of them are even out of state, a curious note. Just check the reports nowadays.
According to Blanchard’s campaign website, she and her husband, Johnny, built their wealth by starting an apartment management business and later through acquisitions and syndications of apartment complexes.
Ivey’s and James’s contributions come mostly from Alabama, though Ivey’s filings are dotted with out-of-state businesses and political action committees. The governor’s largest donation came earlier this month when Get Families Back To Work Inc. donated $750,000 to Ivey’s campaign. Listed as a business contribution in Ivey’s report, Get Families Back To Work listed the same Pennsylvania Avenue address in Washington DC as the Republican Governors Association. Get Families Back To Work has a limited online footprint, but paid for a TV ad earlier this year criticizing Democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kellywho is running for re-election.
James’ biggest contribution is a pair of $500,000 donations from Clearbrook LLC to Mobile, a water filter and food products company.
With her own campaign money coupled with a handful of individual contributions, Blanchard said in the statement that she will be “free from ANY special interest influence. I will not be beholden to anyone and I will only work for the people of Alabama.
The Ivey campaign did not respond to a request for comment. The James campaign said it had no comment.
The Republican primary is May 24.
“That’s why,” Blanchard’s statement about his financial independence said, “it’s not necessarily a bad thing – and, in fact, it can be a good thing, not to seek or demand mentions of special interests like some of my opponents.”