Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Winnecke Raising Money for Expenses

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Winnecke Raising Money for Expenses

Article excerpt

The Evansville mayoral campaign ended almost three months ago, but the fundraising is just getting started. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke will hold an "inaugural celebration" Friday night at the Old Post Office in Downtown Evansville. Tables for eight cost $2,500 - with "preferred placement" - or $1,000. Single tickets are $100. Winnecke acknowledged the event will help fill the coffers of the former Winnecke for Mayor committee, which has been renamed Friends of Mayor Winnecke. The new fund is intended to pay at least some of Winnecke's political expenses, just as former Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel's six-figure fund did for him.

The former Weinzapfel for Mayor Committee paid for his $811.50 airline ticket to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, a trip to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game for about 60 major campaign donors that year, opinion polling, contributions to other politicians and myriad other expenses.

Its coffers were filled by Indianapolis-based engineers and attorneys, local and statewide business leaders, Democratic Party partisans and others who supported Weinzapfel. Winnecke said it makes sense to have a political fund for aspects of the job that shouldn't be taxpayer-funded. The mayor of Evansville's annual salary is $98,563.

"I haven't given any thought as to how large a political fund to maintain, but I think it's reasonable to assume that the mayor of a city the size of Evansville would have political expenses that wouldn't be covered by personal salary, necessarily," said Winnecke, whose newly rechristened fund had $14,728 on hand as of Friday.

"The reality is, there are a lot of events I'll have to go to. There are tables that I'll have to buy, that I will feel compelled to buy, to support organizations in the community. Some (wife Carol McClintock) and I will elect to pay for personally, and others I'll opt to fund out of this committee."

There also is the possibility this year's local government consolidation referendum campaign will be successful, in which case Winnecke said he probably would run for metro mayor in 2014.

Robert L. Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville, said Winnecke's early fundraising is indicative of the "permanent campaign" that for 20 years has seen candidates raising money for the next campaign soon after they conclude the previous one.

"Now is a great time to raise money because he's basking in a honeymoon," Dion said.

"People genuinely want to see him do well." But a large Winnecke war chest has value beyond gearing up for the next campaign.

Dion said it could intimidate potential challengers and allow the new mayor to gain the loyalty of other politicians. "He could build goodwill," Dion said. "Winnecke is going to be one of the best Republican fundraisers for sure, and he can pass it to Republican City Council candidates."

Beyond enhancing Winnecke's local political clout, a sizable political fund could burnish his profile as an emerging force in statewide Republican politics.

With Republicans controlling the state legislature, the governor's office, both of Indiana's U.S. Senate seats and the 8th District congressional seat, Dion said Winnecke's position as mayor of the state's third-largest city makes him a figure worth courting. …

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