Wolf blowing away Crocker financially

It appears Harwich Democrat Dan Wolf has set a record in his quest for the Cape and Islands state Senate seat, bringing in more money than anybody in modern campaign finance records.

And more money has come into his war chest from special interests than any state candidate other than Gov. Deval Patrick.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15, Wolf raised $306,586 — almost $1,700 more than Gail Lese in her unsuccessful attempt to unseat state Sen. Robert O'Leary in 2004. O'Leary will vacate the seat after losing his congressional bid in the primary last month.

The assessment of Wolf's fundraising prowess is based on state Office of Campaign and Political Finance records examined by the Times. The records go back to 1998, but it is unlikely more money was raised for the Senate seat prior to that year.

Some of Wolf's campaign money has come from his own pocket: He has loaned his campaign $100,000 and donated $38,598.

So far, he has spent $261,433 on the race, which is almost $200,000 more than the $63,368 spent by his opponent, Osterville Republican James Crocker Jr. And it puts Wolf on track to surpass the $298,787 Lese spent in 2004.

"It sets a benchmark and a bad example for anyone who wants to get in public service," Crocker said.

The Osterville Republican, and Wolf's primary opponent, Barnstable County Commissioner Sheila Lyons, said the spending makes it more difficult for a person of modest or average means to run for the state Senate seat. But Wolf disputes that contention.

"What I've put in is a reflection of how strongly I feel about giving back, and how much I care about this community and the people in it," Wolf said. "I'm really fortunate to be able to be in a position to have made that kind of commitment."

Wolf has spent more than $73,000 to pay the seven people working on his staff and $62,411 on direct mailing by The Baughman Company, which also handled the mailings for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

While it appears Wolf has set a record for the district, it is far from the most for a state Senate campaign. State Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, spent $474,095 defending her seat in 2004 against Republican challenger Tim Duncan.

In addition to his own campaign spending, Wolf has benefited from the $96,779 spent in the district by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the SEIU 1199, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and MassEquality.org, which promotes gay marriage.

Individual and corporation donations to candidate's political campaigns are limited by law to $500, but there is no limit to how much they can independently spend to promote a candidate. Such spending can range from radio ads to direct mailings.

Patrick, who is running for his second term as governor, has received $2,739,245.54 from special interests.

Tarah Breed, spokeswoman for the state Republican Party, dismissed the spending by unions and PACs as mere special interest money. Officials for the groups said it is appropriate for their members' voices to be heard.

"Anyone who would criticize the right of health care workers to have a voice in our democracy ought to spend a day walking in the shoes of a personal care attendant on Cape Cod," said Jeff Hall, a spokesman for SEIU 1199, which has spent more than $50,000 on radio ads and mailings, among other things, to promote Wolf. "Health care workers on the Cape are as involved in legislative issues largely as a way to advocate for our patients and ensure good decisions are being made on health care policy," he said.

Crocker has spent $38,050 on advertising. The vice president of the Barnstable Town Council and private developer, who has lent his campaign about $25,000, said he believes he can win despite being outspent.

"This is about the message. This isn't about the delivery system," said Crocker, who admitted he had to chuckle at the irony of one of his expenditures — $111.99 to fly Cape Air, the airline Wolf leads as CEO.

"He chose the best airline," Wolf said.

 

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