Mike Smith, Republican candidate in the special election race for Senate District 13, has spent more than half his recent campaign budget with out of state contractors and suppliers, according to the 28-days before election campaign finance records published by the Rhode Island Board of Elections. His campaign expenses for the most recent declarable period were $6,857.77 of which at least $3,896 (57 percent) was spent beyond the borders of Rhode Island.
His highest expenditure during this time was $2,596 for advertising with Gravis Marketing of Winter Springs, Florida. The company undertakes political campaigning including robocalls and direct mail. Smith spent $363 with a t-shirt company based in Philadelphia and nearly $1,000 with a series of orders with “I Made This,” graphic designers and website developers based in Smyrna, GA.
“We use all sorts of vendors,” Smith told me. “That one was the best for the mailing job we were doing. We have mailings that are going out in the next few weeks that are are done by Rhode Island companies. Our next 3 mailings are being done locally, so I am sure it will even out.”
In contrast, Democrat Dawn Euer has spent less than 8 percent of her budget out of state. Her 28 day before election campaign expenses for the most recent filing period amounted to $10,069, with $790 spent with Tina deSilva for consultant and professional services (based in Silver Lake, WI). Her most significant spends were with Regine Printing in Providence ($1,840), the Jamestown Press ($1,445 and $225) and Direct Mail Inc of Middletown ($1,366.83).
Euer also filed a 7 day before primary report on July 11 which indicated she spent over $11,000 up to then and again over 90 percent was with local suppliers, mostly for amounts between $30 and $500. There were 3 expenses over $500 for consultant and professional services with Vanessa Soares of Newport ($768.75 & $685) and Kim Rodrigo, also of Newport ($510).
I asked Euer whether it was a conscious decision to spend locally. “As a consumer, making decisions about where to spend my money is a key way that I influence the economy,” she said. “We can’t just talk about supporting main street businesses. We need to take action – with our wallets – to support them. It has been a conscious decision for me to shop locally as much as possible in my personal life and that is a priority in my campaign as well. I know that shopping at small business is an investment in my community and encourages local prosperity. As a state senator, I want to work on policies that will make it easier for our small businesses to succeed.”
Smith blamed Democrats for his decision to shop out of state. “The other thing is with the climate of the Rhode Island economy there is less businesses because of the policies that have reigned so long in our state, so there isn’t as many printing houses, there isn’t as many opportunities to solicit local businesses as there used to be.”
He also said his campaign can’t afford to support local businesses to the same degree Euer’s can.
“We are a campaign that is not funded like Dawn Euer’s by progressives, by large left special interest groups, we don’t have the money, we have to watch every dollar,” he said. “Most of our money comes from local donors and sometimes we have to shop for the best price.”
Smith raised just over $5,000 up to July 25 and had a balance of $1,638.42. Dawn Euer raised $5,735 from individuals and $1,300 from political action committees during a period that included a strongly contested primary. She had $5,591.67 on hand as of July 25.