On Thursday, state Rep. Pete Lucido of Macomb County is throwing himself a birthday bash. If you want in, you have to buy a ticket – for up to $1,000.
Two things are important to know: Thursday is not Lucido’s birthday, and he is running unopposed in the upcoming Aug. 2 Republican primary, so he really doesn’t need the cash.
A freshman lawmaker, Lucido’s penchant for spending huge sums of money at election time has already scared away the competition in his bid for re-election. But he’s advertising a birthday party event where tickets go for between $100 and $1,000 each.
He does face a Democratic opponent in November but the legislator would have to commit a fantastic blunder in order to make the fall race close as his 36th House District in northern Macomb is among the most Republican territories in southeast Michigan.
Throwing yourself a birthday party to generate cash is a throwback in Macomb politics to the days when candidates could deposit the money in a slush fund and spend it pretty much as they pleased.
For average voters, a birthday celebration marks their actual birth date. But for some politicians, it represents a strategic spot on the calendar to bulk up their campaign treasure chest. Two years ago, Lucido held a similar event, a so-called birthday party, several days before the August primary.
This year, Lucido’s birthday bash, with a typical patriotic theme, is slated for July 14 at a fancy banquet hall in his hometown of Shelby Township. But his birthday, according to his own Facebook page, is 17 days later, on July 31.
It’s certainly worth noting that Lucido set a state House record for spending when he initially won office in 2014, as he spent $185,000 of his own money. At the same time, this well-to-do attorney has set a pattern of seeking donations from the public when his campaign fortunes are already secure.
Here’s what I wrote about Lucido’s finances as the November 2014 election approached:
By Chad Selweski
The Macomb Daily
Sept. 12, 2014
After setting an apparent Michigan record for spending in a state House primary election, Republican Pete Lucido of Shelby Township boosted his campaign spending total to $304,000 and has scheduled a fundraiser for next week where he will seek contributions of up to $1,000 per person.
A first-time candidate, Lucido is considered a shoo-in when he faces a poorly funded Democratic candidate in November who has lost several prior election attempts. But Lucido said he has no intentions of slowing down the pace of his political pursuit.
Weeks before the Aug. 5 primary vote, Lucido had already spent $250,000 on a campaign battle with Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot. At the time, political experts said that outlay was the largest amount ever spent in a two-person primary race for the House.
Lucido’s newest financial report, covering the timeframe from July 21 to Aug. 24, shows that his spending spree reached $304,785. That unprecedented amount was made possible by the $185,000 of his own money that he pumped into the campaign effort.
The fundraising party scheduled for Thursday offers several ticket prices, or “sponsorship” levels. The bottom-of-the-barrel $100 donors are barely recognized. From there, gifts go from a $250 “silver” donor to a $500 “gold” donor to a $1,000 “platinum” donor. Of course, those platinum donations will not come from typical constituents. They will be paid by lobbyists and PACs.
So, what will Lucido do with all those “birthday gifts” – all that cash? He’ll probably save it up for the 2018 election season to fend of all serious competitors. And then, unopposed on the ballot, he’ll hold another birthday party with a patriotic theme where he’ll collect donations that add up to a whole lot of Benjamins.
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