ROCHESTER - A state rep who runs a nonprofit dedicated to raising money for fiscal conservatives said today that the recent District 8 (Rochester Ward 4) special election that saw Democrats outspend Republicans 10 times over should serve as a wake-up call for the GOP.
Joe Sweeney, R-Salem, who founded Granite Solutions, said state numbers show that Democrat Chuck Grassie outspent Republican David Walker by about $180,000.
Sweeney said Republicans will continue to see these same kind of results unless they recognize the need to build a broader coalition of contributors.
"David was massively outspent," Sweeney said. "The Dems have cultivated a national small dollar universe, and they have a lot more larger-money donors, too. Republicans have to have a long look at growing their large dollar and small dollar donors the same way."
He joked that, "If a conservative is upset, they complain to their 50 friends on Facebook. If the Dems get mad they go to actblue (a Democrat funding platform) and donate to their favorite candidates or cause."
Walker said his numbers from state sources show that Grassie raised about $17,000 on his own and about $176,000 from ActBlue and other donors.
He said Grassie still has some $29,000 in his campaign coffers.
Grassie won the Feb. 21 Special Election 568-451. Back in November Walker appeared to have initially won the District 8 seat, 971-970, but a recount found the two longtime Rochester politicians had tied, 970-970.
What bothers Walker the most is that most of the money Grassie raised came from out of state.
"It's just disgusting that much out of state money came in for one ward," he said.
But what rankles Walker the most is that Foster's Daily Democrat just prior to the Feb. 21 special election published an article saying voting was to take place on Feb. 28.
"So you had Foster's suppressing the vote," he said.
The state Attorney Generals Office and New Hampshire Department of Justice Election Law unit sent out an alert regarding the mistake around 5 p.m. on Election Day.
Walker said other contributing factors to his loss include it was a vacation week and a lot of older Rochester residents head to Florida for the winter.
"And then you add the money discrepancy and all that," Walker quipped. "In the final two weeks act blue attracted over 900 contributors that were less than $50."
By his own calculations Grassie spent $311 per vote, while he spent $7.50.
Walker says he'll be back running for office again, but it's getting harder and harder for conservatives to win in the state.
Grassie said today he would be donating some of the money he collected to other special elections in the state and to Rochester Democrats.
He agreed he had outspent Walker, but wouldn't admit he "massively outspent" him.
He also agreed that the fact that the majority of money he raised came from out of state "could be true."
Meanwhile, Sweeney is hopeful that Republicans will look at this race and see the need for change.
He said the Republican National Committee is already putting in place a minimum donor base number of 65,000 for a presidential contender to get on a GOP presidential debate stage. He said New Hampshire Republicans should do the same thing, perhaps requiring candidates have a minimum donor base, too.
"It would be a good goal for the party," he said.