The tight money race in the mayoral primary

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When it comes to funds for her re-election campaign, Mayor Lovely Warren nears the finish line with an advantage over challenger Malik Evans—but thanks only to money raised the beginning of 2021.

Warren and Evans will face off in the Democratic primary on June 22. An analysis of contributions reveals a sharp contrast in donors, expenses and dollars.

Warren and Evans’ candidate committees (Friends of Lovely Warren and the Committee to Elect Malik Evans, respectively) are required to disclose financial information including dates, names, and amounts about campaign donations and expenses. The most recent report, accessible through the state Board of Elections, includes data from early January to the end of May. 

Here are five takeaways on their committees’ fund raising and expenditures since Jan. 1:

Takeaway 1: Warren’s closing balance is in the red, Evans is in the black

According to the disclosure report, Friends of Lovely Warren spent $32,099 more than it took in from the beginning of the year through the end of May. The Committee to Elect Malik Evans’ reported balance was $124,339.

Takeaway 2: Warren has spent more and raised less than Evans. 

Over the five-months period, Warren’s committee spent more than $100,000, while fundraising topped $75,000. Its largest expenditure—$24,750—was paid to Marc Silverman for “polling costs,” while most other expenses were for advertising and campaign literature. 

Evans’ committee raised $174,399, more than twice the amount Warren’s committee collected, while spending only $52,304, half the Warren committee’s expenditures.

Takeaway 3: Evans’ committee has outpaced Warren’s in the number of donations.

The Committee to Elect Malik Evans reported 660 more individual monetary contributions than Friends of Lovely Warren (746 to 86). It had multiple occurrences of over 20 contributions in a day, including on Feb. 4, when it received 74 individual donations. Friends of Lovely Warren’s best individual day effort was a total of six contributions on March 29. 

Friends of Lovely Warren did slightly edge out Evans’ committee when it came to monetary contributions from non-individuals (10 to 7). However, the Committee to Elect Malik Evans still had the largest single amount—$9,035 from the Rochester Teachers Association. Friends of Lovely Warren’s largest non-individual donation was $3,500 from the business Premier Asset Management.

Takeaway 4: Evans’ committee is reliant on the small-donation game, while Warren’s contributions vary.

Over half of the contributions to the Evans committee were between $1 and $50. In fact, 157 of the total contributions fell at or under the $25 amount.

Friends of Lovely Warren relied on larger donor amounts than Evans. While one in four contributions fell within the $51 to $100 range, the mayor’s committee also had 18 percent of its donations in the $1,500-plus category.

Takeaway 5: Among the largest contributors to Evans’ campaign are unions, while Warren has a combination of large individual and business contributors.

In the top 10 contributors to Evans’ committee, all of which donated at least $3,500, eight are associated with workers’ unions. These include the RTA, the Board of Education Non-teaching Employees (BENTE), the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), among others. 

Friends of Lovely Warren’s top 10 included individuals and a number of businesses. Their largest contributor at $3,579 was Paul Adams, a businessman.

To the finish line

Despite the failure of the mayor’s committee to keep pace financially with her challenger since Jan. 1, Warren entered the final four weeks of the primary campaign with a nearly $22,000 edge in money spent or on hand ($197,167 versus $175,207). That’s because her committee started the year with a fund balance of $121,705, versus only $808 for Evans’ committee. He did not announce his candidacy until January.

But if the race is close, Evans’ more than $30,000 edge in money left to spend—$122,902 versus $89,607—could make all the difference.

Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon intern. He is pursuing a graduate degree in journalism at the City University of New York.

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