John Wright's state rep campaign may become most expensive in local history; money-manager dominance prompts nickname "Missouri Mitt"COLUMBIA, 8/4/12 (Beat Byte) -- In a town where a $250 donation to City Council candidates Tracy Greever-Rice -- or (heaven forbid in the Columbia Tribune's eyes) Karl Skala -- was widely reported and even criticized, the silence about hedge fund manager John Wright's 47th district state representative campaign fundraising has been suspiciously deafening.
To defeat fellow Democrat Nancy Copenhaver in the August 7 primary, Wright has raised nearly $170,000, and the final tally isn't even filed.He's also done three things the media almost always reports and editorializes, widely and regularly: donating $97,000 of his own money; criticizing big campaign donations; and then taking tens of thousands of dollars from out-of-area donors, many of them hedge fund and investment managers -- the very people Democrats love to hate.The boffo money manager donations have prompted some local wags to nickname Wright -- the founder and CEO of NYC and Rocheport-based Rollins Capital Management -- "Missouri Mitt."
Wright is also on track to set a record for statehouse candidate fundraising. The last records were set in 2008. By September, Democrat Chris Kelly had raised $130,000 to Republican Ed Robb's $80,000. Just days before the November 2008 general election, Kelly had logged $220,000 to Robb's $170,000.Wright has already surpassed Robb's general election fundraising and it's only the August primary.
The 47th house district includes parts of Boone, Randolph, Howard, and Cooper counties. But the scant stories and non-existent editorials in Boone County about this unusual, record-setting campaign may show what happens when the BoCoMo Political Machine -- a cloudy mix of small r republicans and small d democrats joined at their good ol' boy hips -- gets behind a favored son (or more rarely, a favored daughter).The high-fliers who get all the tax breaks, city, state, and school district contracts, regulatory waivers, and other government largesse unavailable to Jane and Joe Average open their wallets and let the dollars fly.Meanwhile, the media -- which can't scream loudly enough about candidates the Machine doesn't favor -- ignores the hypocrisy, in this case pointed out by Democratic state senate candidate Mary Still, in an ironic swipe at her opponent, Republican incumbent Kurt Schaefer."I think your donations are a good reflection of who you represent," Still told the Tribune. "I am representing the citizens of the 19th Senatorial District. He has got a lot of money from wealthy special interests, and one has to assume that is who he is going to be representing."But not a word about the "wealthy special interests" donating to John Wright, except from his opponent. "Copenhaver said she believes Wright has gone too far. 'I just don't think it is appropriate to buy a race, and I think that is what he is doing,'" she told the Trib, in one of few stories about Wright's fundraising efforts.RELATED:[Editor's note: Since the campaign isn't over until the general election, we qualified the original title, which referred to this point versus 2008, but may have been confusing].