July 28 2010 12:00 AM

Tracking the money


With less than a week until the gubernatorial primary election, the big news out of the races this week is the campaign contributions for each of the seven candidates. Democratic candidate Virg Bernero’s spending budget is roughly half of his opponent, Andy Dillon.

Bernero raised $743,379 in private contributions and spent $661,789 of that, leaving $81,589 left to spend, as of July 18. Meanwhile, Dillon raised about $1.4 million in private contributions and has spent about $1.1 million of that. The only candidate to raise less than Bernero is Republican long shot, state Sen. Tom George.

Aside from $46,000 from his mayoral campaign money, Bernero’s biggest contributors include the Michigan Education Association and United Auto Workers, which together raised $68,000 for the campaign.

Between June 15 and July 4,  Dillon spent $335,380 for television advertisements, mostly in Detroit. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reported that Bernero spent nothing. However, Bernero did get support from the Genesee County Democratic Party, which launched an ad earlier this month bashing Dillon.

All money aside, a recent poll by Inside Michigan Politics puts Bernero ahead of Dillon by nearly 14 percentage points. Though some political analysts point out the wide margin of error for this poll, they agree it at least illustrates a trend over the past few weeks of Bernero gaining ground on his opponent. Most everyone is waiting to see which candidate the large number of undecided Democratic voters chooses Aug. 3.

Last weekend, while Bernero and his wife, Teri, were in Southeast Michigan for UAW and Michigan Democrats rallies (See: Saturday with Virg), volunteers and campaign staffers held what Bernero called his largest canvassing campaign to date. Between Thursday and Monday, canvassers were scheduled to hit neighborhoods in Battle Creek, Ann Arbor, Flint, Pontiac, Southfield, Muskegon and Grand Rapids. On Thursday, a Women for Virg bus tour will make stops in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Detroit and Waterford in a single day, led by Teri Bernero and the Berneros’ two daughters. According to the campaign, more than 400 women will be involved in the tour.

The Detroit News (which has endorsed Dillon) reported Sunday that while en route to the annual Phil A. Hart Dinner for Democrats, Bernero got in a minor car accident and was unable to attend. Some Bernero campaign staffers attended, as did Dillon.