D.C. mayor candidates spend big on direct mail in final weeks of Democratic primary race

D.C. mayoral campaigns have spent nearly $1.5 million in recent weeks, much of it going into voters’ mailboxes.

Direct mail has been among the biggest expenditures for the best-financed candidates in the two weeks leading up to a campaign finance reporting deadline Monday. And with the April 1 Democratic primary a week away, they have hundreds of thousands of dollars left to spend on getting out their votes.

Incumbent Vincent C. Gray reported the most remaining in his coffers, $322,435. He has collected just shy of $100,000 since March 10, the day new allegations were leveled against him by a businessman who admitted to financing a “shadow campaign” on his behalf in 2010. In that time, Gray spent $480,000 — about $167,000 on mail, much of the rest on consultants and paid staff.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) reported $204,703 remaining in her coffers, collecting about $78,000 in the past two weeks and sending $567,484 out the door — including $320,000 worth of mail and $107,000 in television advertising on Comcast cable and four local network affiliates.

Gray and Bowser lead the Democratic primary race, according to a new Washington Post poll. Monday’s reports suggest both campaigns will have significant re­sources to draw on in the final days.

Council member Jack Evans (Ward 2) has $179,437 remaining for the final week, having raised $67,120 and spent $345,513 in the past two weeks, including $251,000 to a Connecticut mail firm.

Council member Tommy Wells (Ward 6), who has sworn off corporate contributions, has about $79,000 remaining after spending $33,000 in recent weeks, mainly on phone calls and campaign staff. He has continued to receive an outpouring of small donations, raising $42,840 in that time.

No other mayoral candidate reporting Monday night had more than $65,000 remaining on hand or spent any more than $21,000 in the past two weeks.

In a hard-fought D.C. Council race in Ward 6, Darrel Thompson, former deputy chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, and Charles Allen, former chief of staff to the outgoing Wells, continued in a neck-and-neck fundraising contest.

Thompson spent almost $50,000 during the reporting period, leaving about $46,000 in his coffers. Allen spent $47,000 and also had about $46,000 remaining.

In Ward 1, four-term incumbent Jim Graham (D) raised $11,000, spent $18,000 and has over $55,000 remaining. Challenger Brianne Nadeau raised more than $23,000, spent $40,000 and has about $30,000 remaining.

In the at-large race, incumbent Anita Bonds raised almost $22,000, spent $7,000 and has over $61,000 remaining for the final week. John F. Settles raised nearly $10,000, spent $12,000 and has over $7,000. Nate Bennett-Fleming raised just $1,500 and reported no expenditures, saving $20,000 for the final week.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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