David Schweikert will carry the most cash into the final stretch of the Republican primary for Congressional District 5, but the former Maricopa County treasurer said he is so confident about winning the GOP nomination that he’ll save most of his war chest for the general election.
Schweikert reported having $225,000 in cash on hand in his Aug. 12 report to the Federal Election Commission, and most of it is available for the primary if he needs it, he said. About $38,000 is from max donors whose contributions can’t be used in the primary.
But Schweikert spokesman Oliver Schwab said the campaign is so confident about winning the five-way primary that Schweikert cut his ad buys in half on Aug. 11, slashing his weekly television budget from $12,000 to $6,000 and his radio buys from $14,000 to about $7,000.
“We are so far ahead in the polls that we’ve cut all of our ad buys in half,” Schwab said.
Schwab said internal polling shows Schweikert with in insurmountable lead against Ward, former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Susan Bitter Smith and Dr. Chris Salvino, though he would not discuss the specific polling numbers. Schweikert said the race for the GOP nomination is essentially over, based on polling and estimated early ballot returns.
“You never take anything for granted. We’re working our hearts out,” he said. “But at some point it is about the math.”
Ward said Schweikert was off the mark in his prediction, and said his campaign’s polling shows a competitive race.
“Only about 30 percent of those early ballots have been turned in, and there’s still a lot of game going,” Ward said. “I’m happy if David just wants to coast downhill because any politician that pulls up stakes the week before an election and declares victory is the kind of politician that ends up losing.”
Bitter Smith also said Schweikert is being too presumptive in declaring victory, but said she’s the candidate he needs to worry about, not Ward.
“I think it’s pretty obvious it’s a two-person race, and it’s going to be a race to the finish line,” Bitter Smith said.
Ward actually leads the District 5 Republican field in total fundraising, without a total haul of about $793,000. Ward reported $173,000 in cash on hand, but nearly $100,000 can’t be spent in the primary. Both Schweikert and Ward have put hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into their campaigns.
Bitter Smith has $111,000 in cash on hand available for the primary, and said she will likely put more of her own money into the race. She has already contributed $146,000 to her campaign.
Schwab said Schweikert’s campaign is better off saving its money for the general election matchup with incumbent Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell, who reported raising $1.5 million in his bid for a third term in Congress. Mitchell reported more than $800,000 in cash on hand.