Just as athletes are supposed to leave it all on the field, political candidates (leastways, competent ones) aren’t supposed to finish the election with full campaign treasuries. Unspent campaign funds are useless once the voting stops.
Yet, according to her end-of-the-year campaign report, District 4 council candidate Annemarie Randle-Trejo still had $6,185 cash-on-hand after Election Day. Keep in mind, she only raised $10,238. In other words, she didn’t spend 60% of the campaign money she raised – money given to her by donors for the purpose of trying to win the election. Randle-Trejo raised $2,499 of it during the last two-and-a-half weeks of the campaign – and didn’t use it.
Randle-Trejo won 22.8% in the race for the District 4 council seat, finishing a distant second from Avelino Valencia, who garnered 50.62% Nipping at Randle-Trejo’s heels was council gadfly and homeless activist Jeannine Robbins with 21.56%.
Randle-Trejo and Robbins split the support of the Anaheim progressive faction that has revolved around Councilman Jose F. Moreno – who avoided endorsing in the race.
Valencia ran a near-flawless campaign: putting together a broad-based coalition of support with robust fundraising and an attractive personal story. And he campaigned hard.
Still, Randle-Trejo started out with advantages of her own, not least being a sitting member of the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Education who had won several elections to that body. “Anaheim school board member” is a good title, and she had some name ID going in.
In hindsight, Randle-Trejo’s mystifying failure to use most of the campaign funds she raised is one aspect of an inept campaign. One explanation for leaving most of her warchest untouched is it appears, judging from her disclosures, she didn’t hire a consultant to run her campaign. It’s hard to be a competitive candidate without someone producing mail, coordinating the printing and mailing, overseeing volunteers, etc.
The slapdash nature of her campaign showed through even after the election. According to state law, her end-of-the-year campaign disclosure was due on February 1. However, Randle-Trejo failed to file until February 15. Then again, Jeannine Robbins – who is continually ragging on councilmembers when she feels they aren’t following the rules – didn’t file hers until 17 days after the legal deadline.
How will Randle-Trejo disburse her surplus funds? She has options, such as donating them to civic groups, other candidates or using them to run for re-election to the AUSHD Board of Education in 2022.
Or she could give refunds to donors. A supporter named Barbara Carter donated $2,000 just days before the election. Carter listed her occupation as “unemployed” and could presumably use the money.