Took a little spin around the reported fundraising by City Council candidates and oh, my!

It’s really easy to look up the number. Go to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) web site. Click on the “Browser Registered Filers & Reports” link (or go directly). Type the name of a candidate and select from the drop-down that appears. Then click on the “Data” tab. Up pops a list of their contributors. Note: candidates are not required to provide the names of donors who give less than $50.

Here are some takeaways. Disclaimer: I know fundraising is not perfectly correlated to actual election success. But, the fundraising totals are very interesting.

1. Remember how the Charter No gang told us we need to keep Ward seats so that people can run without having to raise the gobs of money required to run city-wide? Well, of the candidates in contested elections, the Ward 2 ward councilor candidates have raised the second and third highest individual totals in the city, creating the second best funded race. (All numbers are for contributions from 1/1/2018 as of 10/20/19.)

Incumbent Ward 2 ward councilor (and self-proclaimed Vote No leader chair) Emily Norton has raised $36,413. Challenger Bryan Barash has raised $31,367. That’s $67,780 between the two of them. It’s staggering. For a seat that, when last contested, Councilor Norton won with just over a thousand votes.

2. Councilor Jake Auchincloss is a fund-raising machine. He has raised $51,639. The nearly $52K dwarfs what the other candidates in the Ward 3 2 at-large race have raised. Councilor Susan Albright has raised $9,385. Challenger Tarik Lucas has raised an impressive $8,994. Challenger Jennifer Bentley has raised only $3,265, nearly half of which are donations or loans from herself to the campaign. Take out the out-of-state ($10,224) and out-of-town* ($12,385) donors and he’d still have the third highest total. 

The disparity between Candidates Lukas and Bentley is striking. Lukas’s haul is close to Councilor Albright’s and to incumbents’ in other at-large races. It suggests a vigorous campaign that has attracted support. In contrast, Candidate Bentley seems to be struggling. They are both “outsider” candidates, so that doesn’t explain her relatively paltry haul.

3. After Councilor Auchincloss and Candidates Norton and Barash, the next best funded campaign is Alicia Bowman’s. She’s challenging for a Ward 6 at-large seat against incumbents Vicki Danberg ($10,061) and Greg Schwartz ($9,925). Notably, Councilor Schwartz’s total includes a $3,500 loan he made to the campaign and $2150 in out-of-state donations. 

For an incumbent candidate in a fiercely contested at-large race, just $4,250 in Newton donations suggests a lack of fundraising effort or support. Candidate Schwartz may be the victim of being lumped in with the Right Size candidates, without generating enthusiasm among the Right Sizers.

Also, I would have expected Councilor Danberg to have raised more, in light of Candidate Bowman’s very energetic campaigning. Is she relying on the rule that top at-large vote-getters in the previous election don’t get unseated?

In the other Ward 6 race, Ward Councilor Brenda Noel raised $14,598 in the period. (You’ll see my name on her list of contributors.) Challenger Lisa Gordon has raised $3,150. 

4. Among the candidates for John Rice’s open Ward 5 ward councilor seat, primary winner Bill Humphrey has raised $14,299, Kathy Winters has raised $7,717 (including a $2,000 candidate loan to the campaign), and write-in aspirant Rena Getz has raised $5,800.

The discrepancy is a bit of a surprise. Is Candidate* Getz eating into Candidate Winters’ donors? Is this a harbinger of how the voting will play out.

In the Ward 5 at-large race, incumbent Deb Crossley has raised $11,409 to incumbent Andrea Downs’s $2,855. Challenger and former alderman Paul Coletti has reported no donations. Clearly, Councilor Crossley is not relying on the previous winner guarantee. And, it seems Councilor Downs is not worried by Alderman Coletti’s lackluster campaign.

5. The race for the open Ward 3 ward councilor seat is close, at least in financial terms. Julia Malakie has raised $4,440 and Carolina Ventura has raised $3,450.

This strikes me as a real miss on the part of the “establishment.” Instead of donating so heavily to Councilors Auchincloss and Crossley — who are unlikely to need all the money they’ve raised to keep their seats, even if they spend it — they maybe are going to wish they spent some of it in Ward 3, where Candidate Malackie probably has the best shot among the Right Size candidates.

Similarly modest numbers in the Ward 3 at-large race. Incumbent Andrea Kelley raised $4,060 in the period, challenger Pam Wright $3,015, and incumbent Jim Cote $915.

It’s like an old-timey (pre-Auchincloss) set of races.

6. The battle between Councilor Maria Scibelli-Greenberg and former Alderman Allan Ciccone for her Ward 1 ward councilor seat is the bargain race. She’s raised $275. According to the OCPF reports, Ciccone hasn’t a single donor.

Again, a missed opportunity for those worried about the Right Sizers.

7. What in the hell is Lisle Baker doing raising $12,462 when he hasn’t had an opponent since leaded gas. I poked around at some of the shoo-in candidates and Councilor Baker was the only one I found reporting significant (greater than $2,000) fundraising. Over $12K. Freezing out future competitors, or what?

With Councilor Baker included, five of the top seven fundraising totals so far this cycle are for ward seats. So much for cheaper ward seats.

* I counted Chestnut Hill address as Newton, though Chestnut Hill could also be Boston or Brookline.