Battle for Donor Dollars Tightens Among Conservative Leadership Contenders

OTTAWA—New data from Elections Canada offers a glimpse into the fundraising efforts of each Conservative leadership campaign—and how the battle for donor dollars has tightened leading up to the final results.

Second-quarter contribution numbers for the Conservative party show Erin OToole moved ahead of rival Peter MacKay to become the fundraising leader between April and June, bringing in $1.24 million in leadership donations.

But MacKay wasnt far behind, raising $1.16 million over the same period.

In the first quarter of this year, MacKay had the most in donations with $1.04 million, coming in ahead of OToole, who raised $785,000.

Meanwhile, Leslyn Lewis, who is backed by many social conservative groups, more than doubled her fundraising totals compared to earlier in the year, raising $996,000 in donations last quarter, up from about $448,000.

Lewis also attracted more individual donors than the four other candidates this quarter at just over 10,000 contributors, compared to 8,900 donors for OToole and 6,800 donors for MacKay.

Some donors may have donated more than once, so these numbers are approximate.

Derek Sloan, who is also courting the social conservative vote, raised $329,000, down slightly from the $410,000 he raised in the first quarter of 2020.

The figures suggest the race remains a showdown between the two perceived frontrunners, MacKay and OToole, but they also show Lewis as a strong and surprising contender, says Conservative strategist Tim Powers.

“I dont think shes going to win, but of all the candidates, I think shes the one who has captured the most interest among people in the campaign and maybe has positioned herself very well for future prospects in the Conservative party,” Powers said.

The fact that Lewis doubled her fundraising totals and put herself on a level playing field with the two frontrunners financially using a greater number of small donations is reminiscent of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harpers rise to power, says Stephanie Plante, a political scholar and director of the centre for security, intelligence and defence studies at Carleton University.

“When Stephen Harper first jumped into the Tory leadership race, he kind of had the same argument as her, which is, I bring all these $10 and $15 donations from all these people and you cant sleep on that because those $10, $15 donations add up very quickly. And thats what shes proving.”

The numbers also show the Conservatives have been largely successful at maintaining a steady flow of political donations even during the height of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is noteworthy at a time when millions of Canadians lost their jobs or were thrown suddenly into economic uncertainty, Powers said.

“Its hard to break through that. No leadership campaign in the modern era has had ever to deal with something of this magnitude,” he said.

“The fact that they can Read More – Source