$4,700 Candidate Scholarship for Cookies – Smart Policy?

Eric Russell, who is in a three-way race for state treasurer, was about to finish his speech at the Democratic convention on Saturday in May when his volunteers hit the trails with a surprise.

For each of the 2,000 delegates – a cookie. Classic chocolate chips. Plastic wrapped with campaign label. And these weren’t the cookies at Jeff’s supermarket. The poster prominently said: “Baked by Catalina, a woman owns a bakery in New Haven.”

With this week’s campaign finance reports, we’ve seen the price the Russell campaign paid for those rewards: $4,679. Don’t coat it with sugar, that’s a lot of dough.

Half-baked idea, spending thousands on cookies as campaign booty? Or perhaps it was a brilliant stunt to scuttle the competition – Greenwich’s Dita Bhargava and Karen Dubois Walton, fellow New Haven.

Conventional wisdom says that the filter should go with a viable material rather than a consumer. Buttons, shirts, hats, that kind of thing.

I still use my Audrey Blondin for my state flies swatter, which the candidate signed me from Torrington in 2005. She didn’t win but I would vote for her – the plastic tool works great.

But perhaps Russell’s cakes were the only thing that should rise to the occasion and satisfy delegates’ desire to make an impression. Each candidate has a different background and set of skills but in terms of politics, they are all more or less the same.

Months later, people who were there remember the flyer. And all Russell needed to pay off the $4,700 investment was a few swing votes, at the time.

The Bhargava team distributed small coin purses with some mint or candy inside. get it? The Treasurer manages more than $40 billion in state pension funds among other financial charges. She also had T-shirts, and her campaign financing report shows $1,688 for food from Panera Bread, though it’s not clear if she handed out labeled sandwiches to delegates.

DuBois-Walton has shirts on her table and other things. Her report shows she spent $8,441 on Guilford’s “Contract Materials,” DNA campaigns.

Sharon Thomas, a delegate from Simsbury, preferred DuBois-Walton. Thomas recalls this week: “I made a comment, ‘Are these cookies going to be considered bribes?'” “

“I don’t usually eat cookies,” she added. “They were good.”

As it happened, food was scarce that day at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford, with long lines at concession stands.

“For a lot of people, it was definitely great to have something they didn’t have to wait 45 minutes for,” said Akash Kaza, a Democratic Party activist and employee of the Hartford mayor. “They were on the crunchy side.”

Soft preferred. Personally, I’m the crunchy cookie guy.

Russell won the endorsement, with 47 percent of the vote in the first round, leading Bhargava, Dubois and Walton to cede their right in the second round, as they each secured enough votes in the primaries.

Elections on August 9th matter, whether you are guided by your mind, heart, or stomach. A Connecticut treasurer has great discretion over investments. For the record, pensioners can buy enough cookies to go to the moon and back 7 times, for every 6 inches of cookies.

For his part, Russell prefers to talk about the issues and his credentials in the three-way Democratic primary. He’s a young partner at a law firm, who does financial work – and he would be the first gay black elected official in the state in the United States if he won.

Bhargava is a money management expert and executive, running an aggressive campaign with a new announcement about abortion rights and how she will invest state money.

DuBois Walton is the only one of the three who has run a public or semi-public agency, the New Haven Housing Authority, where she is CEO. It is also the only one that has not yet raised enough money to qualify for public funding – $484,125 for the primary.

As for the cookies, Russell said in a written comment, “It was a purposeful choice – as someone who has spent time working at the cash register at my mom and dad’s little shop, I know the incredible value and importance of local small businesses, and I’m going to have these values ​​first in mind as my Connecticut Treasurer”.

This was definitely significant for Kathy Rigelman, who founded Katalina in 2011 and knows Russell by lifting weights in the gym together at 5 a.m. — long after her work day started. She told me that making and filling 2,200 cookies, each a good size, took her and her crew two days. “We kept going.”

Thomas, a delegate from Simsbury, appreciated the snack but told me, “I don’t think it was effective, it didn’t change my mind.”

I’ve spoken with a political advisor I call often about these matters. “Eric Russell will now be known as the Cookie Monster candidate,” said Jennifer Schneider of Democratic Media Square Metro Square.

The question is, how does he convince voters that he should be trusted with $40 billion in taxpayer money? On the other hand, he’s sure to hit the ground running with the Girl Scouts vote.”

Schneider said she was skeptical about spending something the next day. But in this case, for example, if 50 delegates had voted for one of the other delegates instead of Russell, it could lead to a second ballot, where anything could have happened.

You do not know in marketing and politics. This is how a cookie crumbles.

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