Student Association’s top seats carry high tab

Candidates have shelled out top dollar for campaign materials in hopes of securing the Student Association’s highest post.

Four out of five presidential candidates spent an average of $918 over a two-week period this year – 44 percent more than candidates last year – excluding the low-spending outliers in both campaigns and falling just below the $1000 out-of-pocket limit set by the Joint Elections Committee.

Last year’s eight presidential hopefuls spent an average of $638.

Ashwin Narla, the second-highest spender among presidential candidates, said the high financial stakes reflect the passion each candidate has for his campaign.

Narla said Tuesday at the GW Student Media Debate that he spent $920 on T-shirts, posters and palm cards – expenses he anticipated when he kicked off his campaign.

“When we’re planning out our expenses, we’re not trying to outspend the other candidates. We’re just trying to use our money efficiently,” he said. “We don’t want to spend $900 if we can get our materials for $500.”

John Bennett, chair of the SA Senate Finance committee and a contender for president, said he has spent $975 on his campaign in a “ramped up” version of the strategy he used to run for the U-At Large SA Senate seat last year, choosing this year to add T-shirts to his purchases.

“I don’t think having an extra 100 posters will change the turnout of the election,” Bennett said.

Two years ago, the highest-spending presidential candidate did not win the seat. Jason Lifton beat out Xochitl Sanchez for the SA’s top seat but spent $180 less on his campaign.

A “normal campaign,” Lifton said, would require students to dish out at least $400 or $500 to pay for posters, T-shirts and palm cards, but he said reaching the cap is unnecessary.

This year, Benjamin Pincus has defied traditional campaign expectations by spending just $56.50 to print 30 posters of his portrait so students could recognize him on campus. He opted not to print palm cards or buy T-shirts.

“The idea that the only way you can win is spending money for a student election is absurd,” Pincus, who is pointedly running a nontraditional campaign strategy, said.

“I don’t know how people get that much to spend on a two-week election,” Pincus said.

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