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City Councilor John Connolly Oct. 3, 2012.
City Councilor John Connolly Oct. 3, 2012.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Councilor at large John R. Connolly raised almost $68,000 in December, more than double the haul of any other city official, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Connolly’s fund-raising tear is continuing this month, and his campaign has already deposited $40,000 more in his account, he said. The councilor’s aggres­sive pace picked up as most candidates raced to bolster their campaign accounts heading into an election year. Individual donors may give up to $500 per year, which makes Dec. 31 an impor­tant fund-raising deadline.

Connolly’s expanding bank account has stirred speculation that he has his eyes set on a higher office, a suggestion he rejected in an interview Wednesday.

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“I don’t have any plan to run for mayor; I assume I’m running for reelection,” Connolly said. “Fund-raising is part of what I have to do to be politically viable. I’m fortunate to have built a lot of my support for my work on schools.”

Connolly ended 2012 with roughly $252,000 in campaign cash, a balance approached by only one other City Council member. Still, his account is substantially eclipsed by ­Menino’s.

The five-term mayor has not said publicly whether he will seek another term. Menino had $650,000 at the end of December, according to data from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, and he deposited roughly $3,000 more in January.

But the mayor’s campaign account was even more bountiful four years ago, as he geared up for a reelection battle against Michael F. Flaherty Jr. Then, Menino started the 2009 election year with a war chest of $1.4 million.

Menino has not attended a fund-raiser since leaving for ­Italy in mid-October, a trip cut short by illness. He returned to Boston and spent eight weeks in the hospital for an acute ­respiratory infection and a fractured vertebra and has only ­recently returned to work.

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“He remains focused on ­being mayor and getting things accomplished,” said his spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. “We have many items on the agenda.”

Eight years ago, Menino had $590,000 heading into an election year, a contest with Maura Hennigan, then a city councilor. Menino won that race handily.

Councilor Michael P. Ross of District 8 ended 2012 with $237,000. In an interview, Ross said he had been gradually adding to his campaign account during his 12 years in office and that he could use the money to run for council or a state office.

There may be vacancies on Beacon Hill in 2014 if current statewide officeholders seek to replace Governor Deval Patrick, who is not running for reelection.

“We have a good team,” Ross said. “We continue to have strong support, which I’m very proud of.”

The robust fund-raising circuit is not a surprise to political watchers such as Paul ­Watanabe, chairman of the ­political science department at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“It’s a matter of attempting to get your financial ducks in order. Money in the bank ­increases your options,” said Watanabe. “If the decision is made that the mayor is not going to run, there is going to be a scramble.”

A handful of other Boston politicians also posted notable fund-raising figures to close out 2012. City Council president Stephen J. Murphy held his seat two years ago by just 925 votes, less than 1 percentage point. Murphy deposited $26,000 in his political account in the last two weeks of December 2012, bringing his balance to $84,000.

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In District 2, Councilor Bill Linehan of South Boston may face another serious challenge from Suzanne Lee, a candidate from Chinatown whom he ­defeated by just 97 votes in 2011. Lee ended 2012 with $21,470, almost double ­Linehan’s $11,966.

“All the issues I care about are still issues,” Lee said. “I ­haven’t formally announced [my candidacy], but I am still exploring.”

Perhaps the most surprising fund-raising figure came from Michelle Wu, a first-time candidate from the South End who amassed $36,000 in December as she pursues an at-large seat on the City Council. First-time candidates often struggle to raise money, and Wu’s early prowess suggests she could be a legitimate force.

An attorney, Wu moved from Greater Chicago in 2003 to attend Harvard University, worked on a fellowship in the Menino administration in 2010 and 2011, and was a student of Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law School. Last fall, the 28-year-old worked for Warren’s successful US Senate campaign, running statewide outreach to communities of color, and later announced her bid for the City Council in December.

“I love Boston, and I think city government is where you can make a difference,” Wu said Wednesday. “I think my early fund-raising numbers show I have citywide appeal.”


Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.