Seth Tupper has an article today at the Rapid City Journal’s website that has Democrat seeing green. That is, as a result of Sutton naming Barbara Johnson, former US Senator Tim Johnson’s wife, as his campaign chair, that somehow it’s going to open a magic door into Johnson’s leftover campaign funds:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton‘s recent announcement of Barbara Johnson as his campaign committee chairwoman gives Sutton a potentially crucial connection to Johnson’s husband, former U.S. senator Tim Johnson, who still controls nearly $900,000 in leftover campaign money and could legally give it all to Sutton’s campaign.
There has been no indication that Tim Johnson would make such a large contribution to one candidate, but officials with the Federal Election Commission and the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office said it would be allowable.
Sutton announced Wednesday that the former senator’s wife, Barbara Johnson, is his campaign committee chairwoman. She said Thursday in a Journal phone interview that her husband’s campaign money was not a factor in her joining the Sutton campaign.
“It had nothing to do with it,” she said. “It was never even brought up.”
If Sutton is hoping for a chunk of Johnson money, he could rely on ties that go beyond the role of Johnson’s wife in the Sutton campaign. The Sutton family, for example, gives an annual legislative achievement award in honor of Billie Sutton’s grandfather, who was also a Democrat named Billie Sutton and who served six years in the Legislature before his death in 1982. One of the first co-recipients of the award was then-legislator Tim Johnson.
I could see Tim Johnson making a significant donation… but not in the neighborhood that Sutton would need to be competitive in the contest. Think “tens of thousands,” as opposed to “hundreds of thousands.” In red-state South Dakota, it would be chasing good money after bad, and at some time in the future, as mentioned in the article, Brendan Johnson may decide to enter politics, and he would be the natural inheritor of the lions’ share of the funds.
If Democrats are clinging to false hope that Tim Johnson treasury may open to them, I think they should not waste their time. The Magic-8 ball says “doubtful” in this case.