Republican Patrick Mara is trying to boost fundraising for his D.C. Council campaign, including holding an event next week featuring former GOP congress members Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri and Tom Davis of Virginia.
Mara, a D.C. school board member and a business development consultant, is running in the April 23 special election for an a citywide at-large council seat. The post was vacated by Phil Mendelson (D) when he became council chairman.
But Mara is not keeping pace with Democrats Matthew Frumin, an attorney, and Elissa Silverman, a former reporter now on leave from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, in the hunt for campaign funds, according to an initial round of campaign finance reports.
That may cause Mara, who is making his third bid for office, to have to lean heavily on traditional GOP donors.
According to the event invitation, David and Elizabeth Carmen will host a $500 per person fundraiser for Mara at their Palisades home on Tuesday. David Carmen, who’s been active in GOP politics for more than two decades, runs a prominent government relations firm.
Emerson and Davis, along with Davis’s wife, former Virginia state senator Jeannemarie Davis, are listed as event co-sponsors. Davis, a former chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, left Congress in 2007 but remains engaged in city affairs.
Emerson, who resigned from the House of Representatives last month, is the former chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee that has oversight over the District. She will become chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative on March 1.
Mega developer Monty Hoffman and his wife, Traci, are also listed as event co-hosts, according to the invitation. Another co-host is Ben Soto, an attorney who was former mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s longtime campaign treasurer. Soto also co-hosted an event last month for another council candidate, Democrat John F. Settles.
Ron Phillips, the new chairman of the D.C. Republican Party, is also co-hosting the event.
Though Emerson and Davis both have long-standing, friendly relationships with the District, their role could provide an opening for Mara’s Democratic opponents to argue he’s too closely linked to congressional Republicans.
But Mara, a former lobbyist, argues his relationship with some Republicans on Capitol Hill would be an asset to the city should he be elected to the council. He said he would use the connections to forcefully advocate for budget autonomy and other District priorities.
Davis and Emerson, Mara said, were “moderate Republicans, and the kind of people we need to be very engaged with on Capitol Hill.”
As of Jan. 31, Mara had reported raising $20,000. By comparison, Frumin had reported $76,000 in the bank.
Still, Mara is optimistic he can wage a successful campaign without having to keep pace with his rivals’ fundraising.
“I know what needs to be done in a special election,” said Mara, who expects to bank around $100,000 in contributions. “I don’t need to spend as much on name ID as those other people do.”