You, Too, Can Fund Your Own Campaign!

Categories: Citystate

What do Manuel Cavaco, Melvin Davis, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have in common? According to the most recent finance summary from the Campaign Finance Board, they are the only three candidates who reported funding their campaigns from a single donor.

So far in the mayoral race, that's one measure where Bloomberg trails all his rivals. Fernando Ferrer reports 3,191 givers, Virginia Fields claims 4,048, Gifford Miller has 4,909, and 3,042 donors have funded Anthony Weiner's campaign. Tom Ognibene, the mayor's chief Republican challenger who might be kept off the ballot if enough of his petition signatures are voided, has collected dough from 891 more people than the mayor. Even long-shot comptroller candidate Jessica Sutliff has checks from three people.

A candidate with a healthy number of donors can claim broader support than a rival with fewer moneypeople. The question is whether that candidate will be able to afford the TV and radio commercials to air the claim, or any other. And there's the problem for the Democrats: Ferrer's donors average about $1,080 each. Bloomberg's average is $23,655,868. Cavaco and Davis, running for city council seats, come in slightly lower than the mayor, at $1,300 and $558 respectively.

The skewing effect of Bloomberg's deep pockets on the city campaign finance system is reflected in the finance records in yet another way: the important measure of cash on hand. It's great if a candidate raises a ton of cash, but if he/she spends it all, that signals poor management and deep trouble. That's what happened to Howard Dean during the presidential primaries.

According to the CFB report, for example, Miller has $2.8 million left after expenses. Since Bloomberg has already spent $23 million, he has a mere $600,000 left from his massive personal donation—until, that is, he decides to whip out the checkbook once again.


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