Ketch-ing Up

Or, Pouring Ketchup On An Over-cooked Campaign, or Ketchup Money to Help Campaign Catch Up, or some sort of bad pun involving Ketchup, money and catch up (bonus points if you can also work “kvetch” into the pun*):

Unlike Dean and Bush, Kerry said he will put his own money into the campaign, becoming the first Democrat in at least 20 years to do so. Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is worth an estimated $500 million, but Kerry can contribute only money under his control and half of what he and his wife jointly hold.

Kerry could get about $18.6 m in federal matching grants if he agreed to both abide an overall $45m cap and to abide by state caps. Kerry’s sitting on $8m and raised just $4m last quarter, so it would take a lot for him exceed the $45m primary limit.

One of two things must be true (or both): (1) He’s willing and able to spend a lot of his wife’s money (meaning a lot of it is held jointly) or (2) New Hampshire’s spending limit of $729,000 is too low for what is a make-or-break state for Kerry. Personally, I think he’s done already; but even Kerry must know that he’s really done if he loses New Hampshire by more than a small margin. Iowa is going to Gephardt or Dean so if Kerry loses NH, the next feasible wins for him are on 2/3/04 in Delaware, New Mexico, Missouri, and North Dakota, and those only seem likely if he wins NH, or at least finishes a strong second. Even still, those wins will be offset by near-certain Kerry losses in Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Carolina on the same day.

Then things get better for Kerry, with Michigan, Washington, and Maine in the following week. The point: Kerry has to make it to Michigan on 2/7 with some appearance of viability. To do that he’s got to eat into Dean’s 10-12 point New Hampshire lead, and $729,000 isn’t going to do the trick. So upon reflection, this may actually not be a sign of an impendingg injection of catch-up money from Teresa Heinz’s fortune–Kerry may plan to empty his coffers in NH and then hope a win will accelerate fundraising. If so, things could turn ugly, fast.


(*) How’s this: Kvetching Campaigner Counts on Ketchup for Catch-Up.