While more prominent national and state campaigns will take their battle to the television and airwaves, local elections are often reduced to a hard-fought battle of yard signs and fliers.
The effects of such spending are prominently visible throughout the city, with brochures and pamphlets easily found on various doorsteps around Berkeley.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington maintains a prominent lead, spending more than $18,300 on campaign literature alone. In fact, Worthington has devoted the vast majority of his expenditures to campaign literature, spending more than both Jacquelyn McCormick and Mayor Tom Bates combined.
“I think the power of somebody coming to your house and handing out literature is more powerful than a whole bunch of junk mail appearing in your mailbox,” Worthington said.
Worthington also believes his literature is far more informative than that of his opponents.
As for the rest of the candidates’ campaign expenditures, it is allocated toward basic campaign necessities such as office expenses, campaign materials and website maintenance.
But for one candidate, the campaign goes far beyond quick runs to Copy Central to print brochures. Tom Bates has spent thousands on a much different style of campaign, which is perhaps to be expected of a 20-year veteran of the California State Assembly.
With Bates so prominently in the lead in donations, he is able to far outspend his opponents. His campaign filings show spending of up to $50,742.80 on itemized spending.
His largest financial opponents, Kriss Worthington and Jacquelyn McCormick, have spent a total of $28,550.24 and $26,905.75 in itemized spending, respectively.
As such, Bates has dedicated approximately $29,300 to Terris, Barnes and Walters, a political consulting firm based in San Francisco.
He has also allocated $6,000 to Lake Research, a polling firm based in Washington, D.C., that has a location in Berkeley.
Moreover, Bates has led a far more digital approach to campaigning, with more than 100 of the listed expenditures going toward Piryx, an online fundraising portal.
Bates’ campaign also leads in its integrated online approach, despite Bates being the oldest candidate running. Considering that he is a far more seasoned politician with many more resources, however, it may come with the territory.
His opponents have had to adopt a more grassroots approach to campaigning to leverage against Bates’ campaign.
“It would be great to have a political adviser, but costs are huge considerations,” said McCormick. “But I think that you just don’t have to throw money at something to get elected.”
McCormick insists instead that she uses a much more “creative” approach to campaigning than the moneyed incumbent.
For one, she’s the only candidate who utilized print advertisements in places like the San Francisco Examiner or Berkeleyside, although some may consider this a more traditional or even outdated approach than necessarily creative.
Additionally, McCormick can be seen at BART stations handing out fliers. “Walking and talking to people” has been her way of creating a strong campaign, she said.
With the election only a day away and unable to match the spending clout of the incumbent, both of the two major opposition candidates plan to continue their grassroots campaign to the very last minute.
Jaehak Yu is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected].