Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Consolidation Campaigns Swell ; County Merger Supporters Promise Costly Fight

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Consolidation Campaigns Swell ; County Merger Supporters Promise Costly Fight

Article excerpt

A potentially lopsided financial advantage may aid advocates of Evansville-Vanderburgh County government consolidation as they seek to persuade voters in this year's referendum campaign. A leading planner for Citizens for Unification, the political action committee leading the charge, said the committee will hire a full- time employee by month's end for a campaign that could cost "easily six figures."

By contrast, a leader of Citizens Opposed to Reorganization in Evansville said that group will be lucky to raise $30,000.

Both organizations have filed statements of organization with the Vanderburgh County Clerk's Office, but neither is required to report any of its contributions until pre-election campaign fundraising reports come due Oct. 19.

Citizens for Unification envisions a campaign of rallies in auditoriums and outdoor settings, smaller meetings in libraries and similar venues, door-to-door stumping - and billboard and direct mail initiatives that figure to cost money.

Josh Claybourn, an informal adviser to the election campaigns of Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, estimated the campaign will cost more than $100,000.

"This is going to be a campaign much like any other that's on the ballot," Claybourn said.

"This is going to be a modern campaign, so there will be a lot of use of Facebook, of the (group's) website (www.yesforunification.com), of email. Essentially, all the stuff you would see in a modern campaign when you're advancing a candidate, except in this instance it's a nonpartisan referendum."

By contrast, Citizens Opposed to Reorganization in Evansville plans a shoe-leather campaign heavy on door-knocking, public information meetings and guest appearances before other organizations. No major paid advertising initiatives are planned.

"We're just citizens, so we don't have a lot of financing," said Bruce Blackford, co-chairman of CORE. …

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