EDGE’s NWT Election Spending Awards

With around $450,000 spent by candidates during last fall’s territorial election, give or take a few unlisted expense reports, we’re still a few pennies shy of what it costs to run a U.S. Presidential election. But that’s not to say candidates didn’t do some serious pocket-digging — into their own as well as their friends’ wallets — to fund their respective runs at elected office.

We did some number crunching on the Candidate Financial Reports released yesterday by Elections NWT. The first takeaway: spending doesn’t always equal winning. In Yellowknife, five of the seven races were won by the people who spent the most. But outside of Yellowknife, only four of the 10 people who spent the most actually won (this doesn’t including Monfwi, where Jackson Lafferty was acclaimed, or Inuvik Boot Lake, where the campaign expenses for Alfred Moses’ competitors are not listed). Nor is fundraising ability a bellwether for success. Only eight of the 17 top fundraising candidates ended up getting into the legislative assembly.

Here are the ultra-scientific EDGE Election Spending Awards for the 2015 territorial election:

Big Spender Award

Dave Ramsay: The highest roller was former cabinet minister Dave Ramsay, who spent $22,787 on what most people thought would be a shoe-in race against parvenu Kieron Testart. Alas, money doesn’t equal votes when your constituents are chomping at the bit to relieve themselves of the status quo. Testart spent around $10,000 less than Ramsay, yet walked away with almost 80 more votes.

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Mr. or Ms. Popular (aka Best Fundraiser) Award

Dave Ramsay: He may have been ousted by Testart on election night, but heading into the election, Dave Ramsay’s fundraising game was on point. Coming in at $23,900 raised from 25 donors, Ramsay is technically the overall winner of this award. However, $3,000 of that amount is listed as ‘other’; that is, non-monetary contributions that Dave Ramsay gave to Dave Ramsay. Hmm. Perhaps then, the award goes to…

Julie Green: Coming in at $21,110, Julie Green’s impressive fundraising effort was driven by droves of small donations. Compared to our other award winner, the majority of whose donors gave over $1,000, Green played the Bernie Sanders card, gathering money from a whopping 75 people — by far the most of any candidate — most of whom gave less than $200. 

Best Bang for your Buck Award

David Krutko: Spending absolutely nothing, David Krutko managed to pull together 86 votes in the Mackenzie Delta riding. As you can’t divide by zero, we’re a bit stumped about the dollars-per-vote ratio. But still; way to go David Krutko!

Of those who actually spent money, the winner is:

Frederick Blake Jr: The winner of the Mackenzie Delta race with 313 votes, Frederick Blake Jr. spent $1,900.84, or around $6.07 per vote. Other notable mentions, at least among people who actually won their ridings, are Alfred Moses ($9.13 per vote), Glen Abernethy ($17.91 per vote) and Michael Nadli ($18.19 per vote).

Worst Bang for your Buck Award

Kevin O’Reilly: It’s hard to say Kevin O’Reilly didn’t get a good return on investment after beating out three other competitors in the tightly fought race for Frame Lake. But technically, he did get the worst bang for his buck, spending $114.50 for every vote he earned. To be fair, most crowded ridings saw significant vote splitting, so O’Reilly was bound to see a poor dollar-to-vote ratio.

Most Money out of Pocket Award

Wally Schumann: Hay River South was tough on everyone’s pocketbooks, thanks to low fundraising dollars and high expenditures. Our award winner Wally Schumann, who also won on election night, raised only $3,200 but spent $14,920, putting him $11,720 in the hole.

Jane Groenewegen: Though technically not our winner, then-incumbent Jane Groenewegen faced a similar chasm in the money-in/money-out department. She raised considerably more than Schumann ($9,550) but also spent considerably more ($20,064), leaving her down $10,514. On top of that, Groenewegen put a further $6,000 into her campaign via several branches of her Greenway company. So while Schumann is our technical winner, Groenewegen had less in the bank at the end of the campaign.

‘Wait, Where are your Expense Records?’ Award

We have several winners in this category: people whose expense reports, for some reason or another, aren’t listed. By our count, our winners include Jackie Jacobson, Desmond Loreen, John Stuart Jr. and Judy Tutcho. Our sincere apologies to anyone else who should be on the list, but were passed over due to oversights on our behalf.

The Oracle Award

Adam Dental Clinic: If you don’t get money from Adam Dental Clinic or Dr. Adam Hassan himself, chances are you’re not going to win. Over the past three elections, the clinic has given $500 to whoever had a shot of winning. And the good dentist has only been wrong once: last year’s race in Range Lake, when he donated to Daryl Dolynny but not to Caroline Cochrane. Of course, Dr. Adam’s odds are helped by giving money to several candidates in tight races; see Yellowknife North, where both Dan Wong and Cory Vanthuyne received the requisite $500 (but not Ben Nind or Edwin Castillo); or Yellowknife Centre, where Robert Hawkins got $500 from the clinic and Julie Green got $500 from the dentist himself. That said, if you don’t get the dental cheque in the mail, your chances of winning are pretty slim. Cochrane was the one exception, but hey, even Paul the Octopus was wrong sometimes.

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