By Maggie Lee
The top fundraisers in the Atlanta mayoral race have already broken seven figures in campaign cash.
That’s according to the candidates’ just-filed campaign finance disclosures, covering cash and loans received through June 30. The candidates joined the race at different times.
Among them, the nine frontrunners in fundraising have raised a total of almost $7.1 million.
The money pays for everything from campaign staff to yard signs to office space to polls.
They’re all vying to replace term-limited incumbent Mayor Kasim Reed. The salary for that post is $147,500.
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell leads the pack with nearly $1.7 million in campaign receipts. Mitchell said in a written statement, “I am humbled by all the people who have contributed to our campaign. Atlantans from all around the city have entrusted us with their money, the ideas, their faith, and their dreams. They have done so because they believe in what we can do, and what we will do. We will lead, and we will leave nobody behind.”
For former Atlanta COO Peter Aman, the loans are significant: he’s loaned his campaign half its money, some $835,000.
“I want voters to know that I will be a mayor who works for them, not interest groups,” said Aman in a written statement. “I’m running against nearly a century of inaction by lifelong candidates who have collectively run dozens of times and spent years honing fundraising networks. That’s why I have matched my donors dollar-for-dollar. My message is simple: I’m in this with you.”
Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood said there’s no self-funding and no political action committee money in her donations, which total a little more than $1 million. By the campaign’s math, 85 percent of her donors live in the city; and overall, 94.4 percent of her donations are from the 10-county metro region.
“We are raising money from individuals locally, this is not PAC money, this is people who live in and around the city of Atlanta who are interested in, who are supportive of a Mary Norwood candidacy,” she said.
Former City Council president Cathy Woolard, in a written statement, said she is proud of the grassroots support her campaign has received.
“The fact that the majority of my first-time donors in the past three months gave less than $100 is proof that many Atlantans want their next mayor to be someone who values everyone’s input. You don’t have to have deep pockets for me to listen,” Woolard wrote. Her campaign has raised some $835,122.
Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall said in a written statement that his fundraising — totaling $513,051 — is within target. He said his campaign will continue to be characterized by precision and efficiency in delivering its message of hope, confidence and engagement.
“Nevertheless, we are well aware that funding is very important, particularly when we have opponents who have been raising campaign funds for many months, and some for well over a year. And, of course, some are pouring in money of their own,” Hall wrote. “The truth is that the less electable a candidate is, the more money he or she needs to try to gain support from the voters.”
State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said his campaign is going to have the money and resources to do whatever it needs to do. The campaign reported having raised a total $378,286 so far.
“We’re doing pretty good – the last independent poll that’s been taken has us in second place. So obviously the message, and what we’re doing, is having an impact as opposed to other campaigns,” Fort said.
“So I’m really gratified that were doing much better than just about everybody else with the resources that we have.”
Michael Sterling, the former boss of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, said in a written statement, “We are extremely confident that we have the right team in place and that we will have the necessary resources to run a winning campaign.”
His campaign has raised $195,304.
Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves said in a written statement that fundraising is a necessary element of any campaign but it’s not the most important element.
“I am confident in our strategy; plus, voters want a leader who knows how to do more with less. We will raise what we need to win and not a penny more. We believe by running a lean campaign, we show what I will do as Mayor, run a lean city that does more with less — for the benefit of all Atlantans,” he wrote. His campaign reported raising $137,682.
Eaves also said that while other candidates have spent the last 45 days filling their coffers, he’s passed a property tax freeze in Fulton County.
That’s a reference to the widespread hikes in Fulton County home value assessments for 2017 and the subsequent commission vote to freeze the values at their 2016 levels.
Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms could not be reached for comment by Tuesday afternoon. She reported having raised $664,301 .
The election is set for Nov. 7. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held Dec. 5.
(Updated with comments from Kwanza Hall)