As the DC mayoral race lurches toward the April 1 primary, there’s only one statistic that matters: how much cash each candidate has on hand. Fundraising reports were due with the Office of Campaign Finance, covering the previous two months of the race.
Council member Muriel Bowser continues to hold a financial edge, but the reports also gives the first looks into the fundraising mettle of the race’s most recent entrants. Council member Vincent Orange, Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal, and Mayor Vince Gray have all jumped in since the last filing deadline, but in Gray's case, his fundraising is very preliminary.
Muriel Bowser: $211,323 raised; $756,019 on hand
Bowser spent only $68,013 over the past two months, continuing her campaign’s track record of hauling in donations while keeping expenses to a minimum. Aside from staff and office rent, Boswer’s campaign’s biggest expenditure was $6,600 to an outside firm for voter identification calls. Bowser continues to draw a lot of her financial support from the city’s business community, especially developers such as John Akridge ($1,000), Louis Donatelli ($2,000), and Roadside Development’s Richard Lake ($1,000).
Jack Evans: $251,363 raised; $582,496 on hand
Evans cleared $1 million, but he continues to be the biggest spender of any of the candidates, dropping $164,273 over the two-month reporting period, including $10,005 for his October 11 birthday party at The Park at 14th nightclub, $751.80 on Facebook advertising, and $500 in consultant fees to Cherita Whiting, daughter of late Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown. Like Bowser, Evans’s fundraising base is business-heavy, but also includes characters like Paul Wolfowitz, the Iraq War plotter who donated $100.
Tommy Wells: $100,583 raised; $132,570 on hand
Unlike the other candidates, Wells is forgoing corporate contributions, and the latest fundraising report shows it does not put him in on solid ground going into the last four months of the race. His fundraising haul includes $4,500 from himself, while most of his contributions are from small donors giving $100 or less. But Wells was also the most aggresssive spender after Evans. Among his expenditures was $422 to DC Brau. It’s good politics to support local brewing, but unless Wells gets his fundraising up, his campaign might want to opt for cheap 30-racks of Natty Ice.
Andy Shallal: $120,716 raised; $93,273 on hand
The restaurateur and activist loaned his campaign $45,000, but it turns out the first-time candidate can actually raise decent money, too. Since jumping into race on November 12—more than halfway through the reporting period—Shallal took in another $75,169, almost all from individual contributions. (He also rolled over about $4,500 from his short-lived exploratory committee.) Among Shallal’s backers are Ben’s Chili Bowl owner Nizam B. Ali ($1,000) and Virginia Ali ($500), widow of the eponymous Ben. Shallal launched his campaign from the historic U Street eatery.
Vincent Orange: $80,200 raised; $80,200 on hand
Orange has people collecting ballot signatures and keeps telling everyone he’s running for mayor, but a month after he was “drafted” into the race, his campaign hasn’t spent a cent. The untouched fundraising total includes $20,000 contributed by eight businesses located in the same Rockville office building.
Reta Jo Lewis: $35,818 raised; $58,123 on hand
Lewis, a former State Department official, is spending like crazy on consultants, but it doesn’t seem to be paying off. Even after dropping $56,513 over the past two months, Lewis still appears painfully unknowledgable about DC affairs in debates and media apperances.
Vince Gray: $0 raised; $0 on hand
The incumbent’s re-election effort hadn’t been around long enough to do anything meaningful by the reporting deadline. Campaign manager Chuck Thies says Gray’s placeholder website was designed by a volunteer, but he has hired a certified public accountant to manage Gray’s eventual fundraising hauls. Still, no money is better than shadow money, right?