Evans, Bowser maintain fundraising advantage in D.C. mayoral race


Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans is the first candidate to raise $1 million for the April 1 primary election. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
December 11, 2013

D.C. Council member Jack Evans is the first mayoral candidate to raise $1 million for the April 1 Democratic primary, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

But Evans (Ward 2) continued to spend faster than any other candidate, burning through $165,000 in the past two months alone. Fellow council member Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) has raised nearly as much and has roughly $170,000 more in the bank going into the holiday season, the reports show.

Another council member seeking the mayoralty, Tommy Wells (Ward 6), has fallen behind Evans and Bowser — spending more in the past two months ($107,605) than he raised ($100,583) and leaving less than a quarter of the war chests his top rivals have built.

The late-starting campaign of Vincent B. Orange (At Large), meanwhile, has quickly raised about $80,000, thanks largely to bundled donations from a prominent owner of gas stations, a taxicab mogul and a key city construction contractor.

All of those council members have raised more than incumbent Vincent C. Gray, who reported neither raising nor spending any funds since announcing his intention last week to seek reelection.

The candidates

See the Democrats who have picked up nominating petitions for the District's April 1 primary and find candidate profiles and video coverage of the race.

Also seeking the Democratic nomination, Reta Jo Lewis, a former State Department official, upped her total collections to $203,655, with roughly $36,000 coming in since October. She has less than $60,000 in her coffers. Restaurateur Andy Shallal reported raising about $120,000 in his first six weeks as a candidate, with about $50,000 of that coming as a loan from himself.

Evans said his haul proves that his campaign message is resonating with voters as the race enters a new stage with Gray now running.

Evans also said he is “uniquely qualified” — as the longest-serving council member and the longtime chair of the Finance and Revenue Committee — to continue the city’s progress in economic development.

His latest campaign filing lists donations from several leading real-estate developers, including executives at Roadside Development, which recently debuted a vast new mixed-use project in Shaw he had long championed.

But despite his campaign finance prowess, Evans faces questions over how he will be able to distinguish his candidacy, particularly from Gray’s.

Evans has been reticent when it comes to criticizing the incumbent. He has praised Gray, in fact, for keeping the city on steady footing. Other candidates, notably Wells and Bowser, have been much sharper in their assessments of the incumbent.

“The mayor’s done a good job,” Evans reiterated Wednesday before adding, “I will do an even better job when I take over for him.”

Tuesday’s figures also shed light on the state of two hotly contested D.C. Council races.

In Ward 1, incumbent Jim Graham (D) finds himself in unfamiliar territory. Early in 2010, he had more than $160,000 stashed away, the most of any sitting council member. Four years later, he has yet to begin collecting in earnest with less than four months until primary day.

His campaign — still listed as an exploratory committee — reported raising $2,500, spending $280 and having $2,200 on hand.

A crowded field of primary competitors reported vastly more: Public relations consultant Brianne K. Nadeau touted more than $15,500 in new contributions for a total so far of nearly $94,000, with $66,000 on hand. Neighborhood activist Bryan Weaver reported more than $11,000 raised since the last filing, with nearly $38,000 on hand. Beverley R. Wheeler, a Columbia Heights consultant, lagged with $2,300 in new money and $4,000 on hand.

In Ward 6, two well-funded Democrats are vying to replace Wells, who is giving up his seat to run for mayor.

Charles Allen, who stepped down from his post as Wells’s chief of staff shortly after the fundraising period began, gathered $80,000 from 440 donations.

Allen’s haul puts him with $70,000 in cash on hand, vs. $66,000 for competitor Darrel Thompson, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) who reported $43,000 in new contributions coming from 179 donations. Including an exploratory effort, Thompson has raised more than $103,000 and spent about $46,000.

Candidates have until Jan. 2 to submit nominating petitions to secure a place on the primary ballot. Three mayoral candidates — Bow­ser, Orange and Shallal — have already turned in at least 2,000 signatures, the minimum required for the Democratic ballot.

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.
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