Wamre and I wondered yesterday why we had not seen more advertising from the pro-toll road side in next month’s Trinity referendum, given that the election is less than a month away and all they had done so far was a reasonably inexpensive mailing.

Now, with the news that the pro-toll road side has less than $350,000 on hand, the picture is starting to clear. They may not have enough money to do everything we thought they were going to do.

This is not what everyone expected. All of the people I have interviewed about this anticipated a media onslaught, a TV, radio and direct mail barrage to numb voters into a Belo Parkway state of mind — which should have started by now. And it still might happen. Campaign swami extradorinare Carol Reed, who is running the pro-toll road effort, said she expects to distribute tens of thousands of mailers, begin radio advertisements, and produce TV spots.

But where is the money going to come from? By comparison, the strong mayor campaign in 2005 spent almost $300,000, and they didn’t have every big shot in town lined up with them. More surprisingly, why hasn’t the pro-toll road side raised more? Some of it may be campaign fatigue, given this year’s mayoral and next year’s presidential elections. Contributors may be tapped out, or at least tired of being asked for money. In addition, despite the big names backing the toll road, are there enough deep pocket names? The News story didn’t go into much detail, but I didn’t see the usual sorts of people listed who give to these causes.

And, finally, it may well be that there isn’t that much financial support among the business and political elites in town. It’s one thing to write a six-figure check for a presidential candidate; it’s another to do it to build a highway. Or, even more intriguingly, perhaps they don’t want to back what they see as a losing proposition.

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