The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

After early scare, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson outraises primary challenger

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), with primary opponent Ed Lazere behind him, at a candidate forum at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington on Feb. 6. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

Incumbents seeking reelection in the District this year have raised far more cash than their challengers, according to newly released campaign finance reports.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) has catapulted past his primary opponent in the money race after an anemic start, records show.

The 19-year incumbent raised $181,000 between Feb. 1 and March 10, while challenger Ed Lazere brought in $40,000. Mendelson has $229,000 on hand to Lazere’s $79,000 with three months to go until the primary.

Lazere, who is on leave as executive director of the left-leaning D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, showed early signs of strength when he outraised Mendelson in the opening weeks of the campaign.

But Mendelson picked up steam, raking in campaign donations from a variety of sources including real estate developers, prominent lawyers and former government officials. Lazere says he won’t take money from businesses, which have given Mendelson more than $60,000 during his reelection campaign.

Meanwhile, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s reelection campaign has $2 million on hand after collecting an additional $234,000 in the past five weeks. She has raised more than $2.2 million since launching her reelection bid last summer.

Education scandals place election year spotlight on Bowser

Nearly two-thirds of Bowser’s fundraising haul came from people and entities — including developers and city contractors — who gave the maximum $2,000. Half the money came from outside the District. She also received small donations of $250 or less from 930 people or businesses.

Despite a series of education scandals in recent weeks, the Democratic mayor seems assured of a second term, with no serious challengers and a little more than a week left for opponents to collect 2,000 signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.

The June 19 Democratic primary essentially determines the winners of local races in an overwhelmingly blue city.

Candidates will not need to file campaign finance reports again until the week before the primary.

In addition to Bowser and Mendelson, five other D.C. Council members are on the primary ballot, and all have a comfortable cash edge over their opponents.

Look up who gave campaign contributions at this link

• Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) ramped up her fundraising efforts in recent weeks and now has $63,000 for her citywide race. Her best-financed opponent is Marcus Goodwin, a real estate professional who has raised $80,000 since launching his campaign and has $32,000 available.

Jeremiah Lowery, an activist and favorite of some progressive groups, has $22,800 after raising nearly $6,000 in the latest period. Aaron Holmes has $13,000 after picking up $8,000 in the latest period.

• Council member Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) raised $10,000 in the latest period and has accumulated a war chest of $144,000 to fend off three primary challengers.

The closest to her financially is Kent Boese, an advisory neighborhood commissioner who has nearly $36,000 in the bank after loaning himself $20,000.

Former magistrate judge Lori Parker has nearly $25,000 available after barely fundraising in the latest period. Sheika Reid, an architectural drafter, has about $6,000 on hand.

• Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) has $129,000 available after raising nearly $48,000 since February.

One of his primary opponents, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Gayle Hall Carley, poured $50,000 of her own money into the campaign. The other candidates either didn’t file campaign finance reports or reported little cash on hand.

• Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) has nearly $100,000 in the bank after raising $25,000 in the latest period. His primary opponent Lisa Hunter has nearly $17,000 available.

• Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) had $56,000 on hand. Her two opponents hadn’t filed campaign finance reports as of Tuesday morning.