Cash floods superintendents race: Incumbent Ritz far ahead of challenger in fundraising

Glenda Ritz is massively out-fundraising her Republican challenger for state superintendent.

According to new campaign finance reports released Friday, the incumbent now running the state education department raised $242,000 between April and June, bringing her cash-on-hand total to $536,000 — far more than the $67,000 that her opponent, Jennifer McCormick has on hand.

McCormick, a superintendent from Yorktown, raised just $121,000 between April and June.

The campaign for state superintendent has not historically been a big-money race, said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, so it’s not clear how much Ritz’s cash advantage will help her on election day in November.

“It doesn’t really mean a whole lot at this point, all this money or the lack of it,” Feigenbaum said.

READ: Find more on this year’s races for superintendent, governor and IPS school board.

McCormick so far has more money raised than Ritz had at this time in the 2012 campaign when she went on to stage a stunning upset over incumbent Tony Bennett, but political watchers expected McCormick to raise more money quickly given her ties to Bennett’s wealthy supporters.

McCormick’s had more of a fight to secure the Republican nomination, which could be a factor, Feigenbaum said. She had less time to raise money while trying to win the nomination.

“Our campaign was squarely focused on engaging with delegates and winning the nomination,” McCormick’s campaign spokesman Pete Seat wrote in an email. “With the convention now behind us, we are in a new phase of the campaign but that is not necessarily reflected in this most recent filing.”

For Ritz, her big haul this spring came primarily from teachers unions. Unions collectively gave her about $140,000. Most of that was from union political action committees since state law restricts union contributions.

Indiana generally puts no restrictions on how much individuals or political action committees can give to candidates.

McCormick largely raised money from local education reform advocates, including $75,000 from Christel DeHaan, the founder of the the network of Christel House charter schools. Also contributing to McCormick was Fred Klipsch, chairman of the Hoosiers for Quality Education political action committee, who gave $10,000 from.

As the race continues, there’s plenty of time left for things to change, Feigenbaum said. After all, in 2012, Ritz was far outspent by Bennett but managed to seize the spot as superintendent through strong grassroots support — something no one saw coming.

“The race is certainly not over, and the race for cash is certainly not over,” Feigenbaum said. “We don’t know how this race is going to evolve.”