What Does the Money Say About the City Council Race?

Boston City Hall. Photo by Michael Sol Warren
Written by Michael Sol Warren

By Michael Sol Warren
BU News Service

How much money political candidates have and how they spend it says a lot about their abilities and efforts to win voter favor. Dig a little deeper, however, and campaign finance reports will show just who supports a candidate, and give clues about how a candidate might act in office. Here’s what the money says about the upcoming Boston municipal election.

How much money does each candidate have?

This is how much money each candidate has on hand as of their most recent report filing. These most recent filings came on either Oct. 19 or Oct. 20 depending on the candidate.

At-Large
Annissa Essaibi-George is the challenger in this group. But if her bank account is any indication, then she’s only a real threat to Councilors Stephen Murphy and Michelle Wu. Councilor Ayanna Pressley is also within Essaibi-George’s striking range, but it looks like Councilor Michael Flaherty has little to worry about.

District Three
Councilor Frank Baker has been treating this election almost as if he’s running unopposed, and these financial reports might show why. Challenger Donnie Palmer has reported just $15 in the bank as of Oct. 19. It appears that he simply isn’t campaigning.

District Four
Councilor Charles Yancey and challenger Andrea Campbell are on an even playing field when it comes to the funds available to each.  Campbell beat Yancey in the Sept. 8 preliminary election, taking 57 percent of the vote compared to Yancey’s 33 percent. Based on the money each candidate has on hand, it doesn’t appear that Yancey will be able to simply outspend Campbell in a final push towards election day.

District Five
This race is a rematch from 2013, when now-Councilor Tim McCarthy defeated Jean-Claude Sanon 55 percent to 45 percent to win the District Five seat. McCarthy has a huge financial advantage in this year’s campaign, indicating that the results will likely be an even larger victory.

District Seven
Councilor Tito Jackson is being challenged Charles Clemons, the co-founder of TOUCH 106.1 FM. Though Jackson’s account balance is currently much smaller than other incumbents, he still has a sizable financial advantage over Clemons.

How much has each candidate raised since primaries?

This is how much each candidate has raised since the Sept. 3 preliminary election. This data is from three finance reporting cycles, so it effectively represents the money raised from Sept. 3 to Oct. 26.

At-Large
Pressley, Wu, Essaibi-George and Flaherty have been fund-raising impressively since the Sept. 3 primaries. Flaherty’s fund-raising is interesting in its own right, given the massive advantage he has in funds on hand compared to the other candidates.

Murphy, on the other hand, have not matched those efforts. He already has a relatively small war chest and his fund-raising efforts are not helping him hold off the Eassaibi-George campaign.

District Three
Palmer hasn’t raised a single cent since June, so it makes sense that Baker appears to not be working hard on fund-raising.

District Four
This is the story of the District Four race. Campbell has been campaigning and fund-raising much more effectively than Yancey. It showed in the results of the preliminary election and it appears that next week’s election will end the same way.

District Five
Things get weird here with McCarthy’s reports. The only receipts that the incumbent has disclosed since the preliminary election are seven contributions that all come on Sept. 21 and total $1,610. However, McCarthy’s last bank report stated $32,595 in receipts from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15. Even if this money came from McCarthy himself, he’d have to disclose that information on the reports. So while it appears that Sanon has been more active in fund-raising since the primaries, this is not the case.

District Seven
The fund-raising and campaigning gap in District Seven, though less extreme than District Three and less shady than District Five, is huge. Jackson show have no problem keeping his seat based on how more effective his campaign efforts are.

How much have they spent since primaries?

This is how much each candidate has spent since the Sept. 3 primary. Like the previous section, this date effectively represents the time period from Sept. 3 to Oct. 26. One thing to note about this section is the timing. We are a week away from election day; it is a general pattern in elections that campaign spending skyrockets during the final week.

At-Large
The two biggest spenders in the at-large race since the preliminary elections are Wu and Flaherty. The two incumbents are doing their best to hold of Essaibi-George’s challenge. Wu’s biggest single expense during this time period was $21,774.96 to Connolly Printing in Woburn to make campaign mailers. Flaherty has been more consistently making smaller payments; his largest expense since the primaries was $4,000 in rent for his campaign headquarters.

District Three
Baker has been spending money, sure, but not necessarily on campaign activities. His two largest single expenses since the primaries have been to charities: $2,500 to Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s charity, the MJW Charitable Foundation, and $2,000 to Massachusetts Fallen Heroes. He also spent $1,020.20 in airfare when travelling to Seattle as part of Mayor Walsh’s City to City delegation.

District Four
Campbell’s biggest single expense since the primaries is $10,662 to Independence Communications and Campaigns, a campaign management company based in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She also has a staff of three employees that she pays biweekly; payroll is a major expense for the Campbell campaign.

Yancey’s campaign expenses are similar to Campbell’s, but they tend to come in smaller amounts. His biggest single expense since the primaries was $3,112.68 to an undisclosed company for printing and office supplies. Yancey has one person, his office manager Kerrilee Blake, that he pays on a regular basis. For more campaign muscle, he hires people as temporary canvassers. These canvassers are paid anywhere between $60 and $270.

District Five
McCarthy’s single biggest expense since the primaries was $1,872.00 to Precision Screening of for campaign shirts. Sanon’s main expenses also seem to be campaign materials with two payments of $1,375.15 to First Graphic Services reported. Sanon did not list specifically what the money was spent on.

District Seven
Jackson has outspent Clemons by a wide margin since the primaries, and his biggest expense has been the consulting services of Ron Bell. The councilor has paid the former adviser to Governor Deval Patrick $7,500 since Sept. 3. Clemons’s biggest expense in that time has been $568 to Studio 24 Graphix for post cards and posters.

All data is provided by the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance.

Leave a Comment