Dollars — often one at a time — started pouring down late last month from the great, blue unknown onto Democrat Barbara Cady‘s House District 42 campaign.
A dollar from someone in West Virginia, one from Chicago, one from New Jersey, one from Indiana, one from Seattle, one from Tennessee, one from Mississippi, one from Salt Lake City. They came like snowflakes, slow at first, then flurrying, then blinding, hundreds a day for more than a week.
Sometimes the amounts were bigger: $1.25, $1.57, $3.13, $6.25, $10, $12.50. And sometimes the amounts were downright generous: $1,000 checks each from three people she had never met, never contacted, never heard of, in California, Massachusetts, and New York.
In the course of two weeks, Sept. 19-Oct. 2, Cady’s campaign against Republican Fred Hawkins for the open seat in HD 42 collected, 3,454 donations, totaling $26,158.
“I had nothing to do with it,” Cady said. “It is a joint venture with ActBlue and Pod Save America.”
The rainmaker was a partnership of a national Democratic podcast that featured Cady and her race, called “Pod Save America,” run by an organization called Crooked Media, working with the Democratic online fundraising infrastructure of ActBlue.
Cady said they didn’t contact her beforehand. They just featured her. They’ve been doing so with a selection of state legislative races around the country in seats that Democrats have identified as flippable, heading into the reapportionment process in a couple of years. The organization’s goal is to help flip state Legislature races around the country in time to change the dynamics of the next redistricting.
The money came just in time, she said. The Republican Party of Florida, Cady said, has been flooding HD 42, which covers much of Osceola County and parts of eastern Polk County, with mailers trying to make her look like a radical socialist who is going to unlock the jails, encourage violence, and other terrible sounding things.
Cady, of Lake Wales, is a consultant who works with home owners associations.
“So I am just getting tons of donations from individuals, from all over the country, from people who want to see fair district map lines drawn in 2021. It’s also coming from people who are seeing the disgusting mailers coming from Fred and the Republican Party of Florida,” she said.
“I’m glad they did,” Cady said of the podcast. “I’m going to be sending out mailers. I’ve got some digital ads. I’ve done some videos, and now I’m ready to go to counter my opponent’s lies.”
Crooked Media’s website declares that, “Pod Save America is a no-bullsh*t conversation about politics hosted by former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor. It cuts through the noise to break down the week’s news, and helps people figure out what matters and how they can help. They’re regularly joined by journalists, activists, politicians, entertainers, and world leaders.”
Apparently it has the ability to create blizzards of small donations.
Of the 3,374 contributions she received between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2, 3,037 were for less than $10 each; 642 were for just $1.
Her average donation during the two-week reporting period posted by the Florida Division of Elections was $7.26.
Yet her $26,000, two-week haul was nearly as much money as Cady’s campaign had collected over the previous 50 weeks.
In the latest two-week period, she got 883 donations from people in California, 431 from New York, 158 from Washington state, and 21 from Missouri.
By contrast, Hawkins, a suspended Osceola County Commissioner from Saint Cloud, collected a grand total of 20 donations during the same period. Hawkins had a good haul, $14,100. Most of that came in $1,000 checks, mostly from political action committees supporting his pro-business platform.
It was the second consecutive campaign finance reporting period in which Cady kept up with or out-raised Hawkins, who perviously had dominated fundraising in the district.
In his entire 20-month campaign, Hawkins had raised more than $272,000. Yet he did so with just 430 donations.
Cady accepted more than that many contributions on a Wednesday.
Cady got 112 checks from Floridians, including a few people her campaign actively solicited for donations. It’s hard to tell how many of the donations came from direct fundraising efforts.
Floridians contributed about 10% of her haul in the Sept. 19-Oct. 2 reporting period.
With that, Cady had about $50,000 in the bank on Oct. 2. Hawkins had about $47,000 in the bank on that date.