Most candidates in the Ward 5 special election filed their latest campaign finance numbers in the past 24 hours, and with a week to go till election day, one candidate has a massive cash advantage.
That would be Frank Wilds, the 67-year-old Riggs Park businessman who came in second to Harry Thomas Jr. in the 2006 Democratic primary for the seat he now seeks. He has more than $45,000 in the bank for the final week; his nearest competitor, Kenyan McDuffie, has less than $14,000.
Despite the flush coffers and history as a vote-getter, Wilds has not quite kept up with fellow Democrats McDuffie and Delano Hunter, and even Republican Tim Day, in media attention and endorsements.
But Wilds might have the last laugh. Of the contenders, he has the advantage of being the only one who lives in the vote-rich northern portion of the ward. In the April 3 primaries, about 40 percent of the ward’s votes were cast north of Newton Street NE, areas that Wilds considers his base.
“I’m going to be very strong in the high-voting senior citizens [precincts],” Wilds said Tuesday. “I have a track record. The voters know me in this area.”
Caveats: Other candidates, particularly Hunter, are also targeting voters in that area, and Wilds’s opponents quietly doubt his support. They note that they’ve heard from voters who might post a yard sign or write a check for Wilds out of friendship and loyalty but plan to vote for a younger candidate.
Wilds rejects that analysis, of course: “Everybody’s saying I’m too old,” he said. “But I’ve got the experience. They’re going to have to work to beat me.”
As for his cash stockpile, Wilds said it shows he’s “the prudent guy” in the race. His donors include a number of developers, gas station mogul Joe Mamo and his companies, area trial lawyers and several former council members.
The money, Wilds said, will help with his “ground game,” though he declined to go into detail: “I can’t give you all my secrets, because then you’d know.”
Here are more details on the campaign finance reports, in Storify form: