This year’s mayoral election is drawing unprecedented levels of fundraising as incumbent John Engen works to ward off his first serious challenger since the 2006 election.
Engen has raised over $54,500 in campaign donations from more than 350 people in his bid against Lisa Triepke. He’s spent just under $40,000.
Triepke has raised just over $11,000 from 48 contributers, $1,860 of which she gave herself. She’s spent more than $12,200, leaving her campaign around $1,200 in debt as of Aug. 21.
The hundreds of people (and one committee: The International Association of Firefighters) that supported Engen varied widely from city coworkers to other elected officials to attorneys to retirees.
Donations varied from $15 to the maximum of $330 per person. Most fell at $50 and $100.
Interim UM President Sheila Stearns gave to Engen’s campaign.
Council members Emily Bentley, John DiBari, Annelise Hedahl, Jordan Hess, Gwen Jones and Marilyn Marler all donated.
Council candidates Chris Badgley and Julie Merritt supported Engen.
Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Thane, recently retired County Auditor Barbara Berens and County Clerk Tyler Gernant all donated, along with four Missoula-area state legislators: Dick Barrett, Diane Sands, Shane Morigeau and Ellie Hill Smith.
As of Aug. 22, Engen spent just under $40,000 on various campaign expenses including:
- $15,000 to Brock Consulting for campaign services from the public affairs team.
- $4,500 in payroll to 2017 UM communications and political science major Mackenzie Lombardi.
- $3,750 to Tammy Bodlovic for campaign compliance work.
- $2,250 to Pittsburgh-based NPG VAN for campaign management software.
- Over $1,600 to Element L Design for graphic design, 1,000 bumper stickers and 525 magnets and stickers.
- $2,668 to Alphagraphics for postcards, envelopes and letterhead.
- $3,006 to The Directory for mailing service on 7,888 letters and postcards.
- $1,070 to Caffe Dolce for event catering (owner Peter Lambros donated $300 of the catering costs).
Triepke’s campaign spending has largely gone to Spiker Communications, who is handling her campaign and advertising for nearly $11,000.
Aside from that, she’s spent $185 on Facebook post boosts, as well as covering her Missoula half-marathon entry fee.
Among her supporters are Ward 5 council representative Julie Armstrong, state Rep. David Moore and several Realtors from the Windermere and Lambros real estate firms.
The two mayoral candidates together have raised about as much as some of the 2016 state legislative races, which topped out at $60,000 to $80,000 in campaign finances, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The Commissioner of Political Practices only keeps records from the last decade, leaving out numbers from Engen’s first race in 2006. In 2009, when he ran unopposed, he’d raised over $26,000 as of the first reporting deadline.
Engen ended up donating to City Council candidates during that race, according to an article from the Missoulian.
In 2013, when Engen won with 66 percent of the vote, his main opponent Peggy Cain had raised just $480 to his $16,000.
City Council candidates filed their reports last week as well, with the largest reaped in the Ward 4 competition, which has three candidates vying to unseat three-term incumbent Jon Wilkins.
Wilkins has raised about $1,200, spending $225 of it on 300 door hanger cards and yard sign stickers.
Builder Chris Badgley took in $4,065 from 36 donors, more than 20 of whom live out of state, mostly Washington and California, although famed local artist Monte Dolack did give $100 to the candidate.
Badgley has spent over $1,800 on fundraisers, as well as letterhead/logo design and printing for 1,500 mailers, and a book, "Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way." He’s also retained bookkeeping services from recently retired County Auditor Barbara Berens.
Financial representative Jesse Ramos has raised $1,147. Over $500 came from his own funds.
Ramos’ spending has been focused on Facebook post boosts, a printed banner, gun show entrance fees and consulting from Sam Redfern, the founder of United States of Hope, a local veterans group.
Author/blogger Greg Strandberg took in $370 and has used $125 of it to advertise on Facebook and print 1,000 campaign cards.
The other ward finances are as follows:
Ward 1: Bryan von Lossberg (incumbent, unopposed).
Ward 2: Jordan Hess (incumbent, unopposed).
Ruth Ann Swaney (incumbent, unopposed) has not filed a finance report.
Ward 3: Heather Harp
Notable contributors: Ward 3 representative Gwen Jones.
Jon Van Dyke
Raised: $250 (contributed himself)
Spent: $170 (to the Montana Democratic Party)
Thomas Winter has not filed a finance report.
Ward 5: Stacie Anderson
Notable contributors: Ward 5 representative Annelise Hedahl.
Ward 6: Julie Merritt (unopposed)
Notable contributors: Mayor John Engen, Ward 6 representative Marilyn Marler.