What does it mean when a candidate loans or donates their own money to their campaign? The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics column reports Republican Senate candidate Tim Donner donated $100,000 to his own campaign. Donner is in an uphill battle for the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. James Webb.
A candidate donating to their own campaign can mean different things and is a significant event. It can be a strategic action meant to signal opponents the candidate is a serious contender. It may also be interpreted as a desperate move to shore up a campaign losing traction. This is especially true if a candidate loans money in place of an outright donation. Loans imply an expectation of repayment and may be seen as an interim measure.
An outright donation is not without problems. Prospective donors may believe there is no reason to part with their hard earned money when the candidate is wealthy enough to pay their own way. How the donation is portrayed by the campaign can also have an impact on perception. In Donner’s case, he sent a tweet that seemed to imply he was a stronger candidate, collecting more money than other challengers: “For the 2nd straight quarter, Donner for Senate banked more money than any other challenger to Allen, totaling more than $133,000.”
I was not able to find anything on Donner’s web page about the donation. It is not likely his opponents will give him a pass on tweet. When you take out Donner’s own money, it appears donations to his campaign have trailed off dramatically.