The disparity in fundraising between Douglas County’s major political parties continued in 2011.
And it was a large, large disparity.
The Douglas County Democratic Central Committee, which urged many supporters to give monthly donations of amounts such as $10 and $25, raised $27,633 in 2011, according to its campaign finance report filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
The only real Douglas County Republican Party contribution in 2011 was $424.75 in unclaimed property from the state for an old utilities deposit on a former headquarters building. The GOP also reported 86 cents in interest income on its U.S. Bank account.
Ed Quick, the Democratic committee’s chairman, said party leaders worked hard last year to get people to make small contributions monthly because they can add up.
“We’ve had quite a bit of success this year,” he said, “and we hope to build on that.”
The central committee members are also working to ramp up for the August and November elections, as they plan to open a campaign headquarters and help organize voter registration events. Quick said the party also wants to be prepared for recent changes in state election laws as they seek to register new voters for county, state and congressional races and the presidential election.
The party is not yet far along in its candidate recruitment, especially for state legislative seats, mostly because they’re waiting to see what happens this legislative session with redistricting.
As for the Republican finance report, Richard Todd, the county’s GOP chairman, could not be reached for comment Friday, but the fundraising disparity between the two county parties appears to be following a trend from the last decade.
The Democrats tend to raise several thousand dollars as part of an organized campaign — they received $20,335 in contributions in 2005 — while the Republicans raise very little, especially in off-year election cycles — $800 in 2005. But a group of Republican supporters often work hard for candidates in certain county and state legislative races.
It’s no secret that Douglas County has become an outlier compared with nearly all other counties in Republican-rich Kansas.
County Clerk Jamie Shew said Friday of the county’s almost 75,000 registered voters, 26,190 are Democrats, 26,097 are independents and 21,968 are Republicans. The county also has 636 Libertarians and 55 Reform Party voters.
Quick said he believed as conservative Republicans, including Gov. Sam Brownback, gained more power in state politics after the 2010 elections, it has galvanized Democratic support in Douglas County, especially for the 2012 election. Groups in Lawrence have been at odds with Brownback’s administration in the last year on several issues, including arts funding and an initial decision to close the local Kansas Social and Rehabilitative Services office. Local governments worked out an agreement to keep the local SRS office open, and Brownback has included funding for it in his current budget proposal.
“There’s quite a bit of dissatisfaction with what’s been going on in Topeka,” said Quick, adding it likely helped the party’s 2011 fundraising haul.