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Mayoral candidates rake in campaign cash

Saraya Wintersmith, GBH News
Mayoral candidates rake in campaign cash
Kim Janey, Andrea Campbell, Michelle Wu. BANNER FILE PHOTOS (Janey, Campbell), VIDEO IMAGE (Wu)

Acting Mayor Kim Janey led the field of the six major mayoral candidates in fundraising for May with $162,794, but remains behind Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell in total cash raised. The two city councilors each have raised about $1.2 million.

At-Large Councilor Annissa Essaibi George brought in the second most in May with $151,024; followed by Campbell with $116,655; Wu with $107, 217; former Boston Economic Development Chief John Barros with $78,806; and South End state Rep. Jon Santiago with $77,522.

The May numbers come as the Sept. 14 preliminary contest heads into its last hundred days. Money raised, spent and held on hand can make or break a candidate’s ability to communicate a message and build constituencies.

“It also is a gauge of their persuasion skills,” said Tammy Vigil, associate communications professor at Boston University. A candidate who can convince people to donate money, she noted, can then give voters the impression there is “broader community support, or at least support generally” for his or her campaign.

Campbell is now also being buoyed by Better Boston, a super PAC whose recently filed first fiscal report showed several deep-pocketed donors and a $93,000 digital advertising purchase.

The Boston Globe also reported that the Boston Turnout Project super PAC, chaired by Jason Burrell — a former regional field director for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren — is believed to be supporting Wu.

Burrell told GBH News the group has “no further comment” beyond its organizing paperwork filed with the state last month.

Super PACs, or independent expenditure political action committees, can accept unlimited funds from any source and can make unlimited expenditures for or against candidates. They may not coordinate with candidates.

Political observers expect each of the candidates to have super PAC backing before the race concludes.

Total funds raised

Essaibi George, who announced in January, is third in total funds raised, with $908,322.

Santiago, who launched in February, has $675,002.

Janey officially declared in April and has raised a total of $610,163.

Barros has $473,573, the least in the race. With his local funding at 52 percent, however, he is the only candidate who has amassed the majority of his funds from sources within Boston, according to the state campaign finance office.

“That means there’s a whole lot of outside influence going into this campaign,” Vigil said, adding that it’s not an unusual occurrence in a major city that influences its surrounding municipalities.

“They [outsiders] don’t actually have a vote in the mayor and who gets to be mayor, but they do have to deal with the consequences of who becomes mayor. So, sometimes the ways in which people might express themselves would be through their donations, because they can’t really do that through an actual election,” she said.

Cash on hand

With $1,046,998 in the bank, Wu has the most money at her disposal as of the May filing period. Last month she spent about $36,000 on staff of 17 people. She spent considerably less than her competitors on consulting, shelling out only $7,500 across two firms.

Campbell has $1,035,941 in the bank. Her largest May spending categories were staff pay of $36,000 for seven people; $14,117 for printing; and $34,000 on consulting services.

Essaibi George has a stockpile of $570,543. In May, she spent $25,000 on consulting services and $14,500 on staff pay for eight people.

Santiago has $517,673. His biggest buys in May include $22,000 for consulting services and about $13,000 to pay eight staffers. Santiago has also recently made the first TV ad buy from a campaign in the race, coughing up about $150,000 for about two weeks of citywide air time.

Janey’s funds in the bank stand at $358,125. Last month, her biggest expenditure category was consulting services, for which she shelled out about $42,000. She also spent about $22,000 on staff pay across nine people and about 16,800 on digital advertising.

When it comes to money in the bank, Barros has $341,827 stashed. Last month, his largest expenditures were staff pay of $36,000 for nine people, and about $3,500 each for consulting and digital advertising.

Wednesday, June 16 marks 90 days until Boston’s 2021 preliminary election.

Saraya Wintersmith covers Boston City Hall for GBH News.