New Castle News

Closer Look

June 29, 2013

How many dollars to dole out is a candidate’s choice

NEW CASTLE —

There is no true formula for how much money should be spent in a political campaign.
The fact is nobody can say how much should be spent to win an election. This was particularly evident in the May primary in New Castle.
The results from the primary may cause one to wonder that there is no rhyme or reason to campaign spending.
A case in point was the race for New Castle Area School Board where voters had to nominate four candidates on both Republican and Democratic ballots.
Seven of the nine candidates in the primary ran on both ballots. Only three of them, however, won both nominations: Dr. Marilyn Berkely, George Gabriel and Mark Panella. Steve Fornataro won a Democratic nomination and Philip Conti a GOP nomination.
Gabriel, who retired as district superintendent earlier in the year, ended up spending the most money of any candidate — $6,920 and change.
Panella spent the next highest among school board candidates — $4,622 and change.
Berkely, on the other hand, spent less than $600. Yet, she finished first on the Republican ballot and grabbed the fourth spot on the Democratic side, far ahead of the fifth place finisher.
She even spent far less than fellow board member Anna Pascarella, who spent $1,644, but finished well out of the running.
So, what does it all mean?
Gabriel probably didn’t need to spend as much as he did. While he may have been running in his first election, he was no stranger to New Castle voters since he served as superintendent for more than nine years.
Plus, this primary had a low voter turnout. And generally, the beneficiaries of small turnouts are candidates who have a political base or who have lots of relatives as in Gabriel’s case.
As an incumbent board member and an optometrist in the community for many years, Berkely didn’t have to introduce herself to voters either.
How much to spend on a campaign is definitely an individual choice. It basically comes down what a candidate is comfortable with.
In Berkely’s case, she was comfortable with running on her record and reputation rather than loads of money.

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