Vocal Critic Of Mayor Leads in Fundraising

By Lori Montgomery and Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty raised nearly $636,000 for his mayoral campaign over the past three months, outperforming Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, despite her endorsement from Mayor Anthony A. Williams, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday.

Williams's support for Cropp, declared at a May 16 news conference, had been expected to help the council chairman consolidate fundraising in the city's business community, where Williams is popular. But Cropp's report to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance shows her raising nearly $436,000 during the reporting period that began March 10, compared with $500,000 in her March report.

Fenty, who has been one of the mayor's harshest critics, meanwhile saw a surge in donations that propelled him into the lead in the race for cash, with $1.76 million. As the campaign enters the final three months before the Sept. 12 primary, the five major Democratic candidates together have raised more than $4.5 million, making the 2006 campaign the most expensive by far in city history.

Cropp, who has raised a total of about $1.75 million, downplayed Fenty's performance, saying her campaign has "been focusing on other things."

"During the last report, a lot of our focus was on raising money, but this time the focus was on gaining momentum. We have that now," Cropp said after a news conference yesterday, where she picked up the endorsement of nine past presidents of the Gertrude Stein Club. The club, which represents Democrats in the city's gay community, voted late yesterday to give Cropp its endorsement.

But Fenty supporters said the new numbers -- which include more than $35,000 from a business fundraiser last week -- should put to rest the perception that the Ward 4 council member is anti-business.

"I've spent a lot of time talking to business leaders and individual business owners about my vision, and we've gotten strong support for that message," Fenty said.

Among the other major mayoral candidates, former Verizon executive Marie C. Johns reported raising nearly $116,000 over the past three months, bringing her total to more than $432,000. That puts her slightly ahead of Ward 5 council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., who has raised about $430,000 since he entered the race last year. Orange collected just less than $100,000 in the current reporting period.

Lobbyist Michael A. Brown, meanwhile, reported raising nearly $73,000, bringing his total to about $223,000. But Brown has less than $3,000 in the bank, according to his report, leaving his campaign virtually broke as the candidates get ready for the final push toward the primary.

Fenty has hoarded more than $1.2 million, while Cropp reported having nearly $900,000 in the bank. Cropp and Fenty filed their reports too late last night to permit a close examination of their donors.

In the race for council chairman, freshman council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) narrowed chief opponent Kathy Patterson's fundraising lead, collecting $186,211 since he became a candidate in late March. Although Patterson (D-Ward 3) remains ahead with $203,874 in total, she raised $71,333 this reporting period and has spent three-quarters of her campaign kitty, leaving $50,403 in the bank.

Gray has $98,764 to work with as the campaign heads into the summer.

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