State Representative Martin J. Walsh continued his brisk fund-raising in the race for mayor of Boston, hauling in twice as much last month as his rival, Councilor at Large John R. Connolly, whose fund-raising sagged in September.
But Walsh was spending so heavily in the run-up to his victory in the Sept. 24 preliminary election that Connolly now has slightly more cash in the bank as the duo begin the final dash to the Nov. 5 general election.
“You’re in a dead-even race with dead-even money, so this is going to be a fight to the finish,” said Jim Spencer, a political consultant who worked for mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie in the preliminary election, but is unaffiliated in the final. “It’s going to be who uses their resources more wisely.”
Thumbnail figures provided by Walsh’s campaign show he collected $381,647 in September, leaving him with $181,115 cash on hand, down significantly from the $700,000 he had in the bank at the end of August. The numbers released Tuesday do not indicate the names or occupations of the donors, information that would reveal the degree to which he depended on labor unions for support.
Connolly took in $163,419 in September, leaving him with $191,473, far less than the $589,000 he had in his account at the end of August, according to his campaign.
Connolly’s fund-raising dipped last month, a potentially worrisome sign as the candidate looks to ramp up his campaign. The $163,419 he collected in September represents a drop from the $245,077 he garnered in August and is on par with the $162,697 he raised in July.
He did however get more of a bump after the Sept. 24 preliminary election that narrowed the field of 12 candidates to the two finalists.
The city councilor from West Roxbury took in $73,900 during that critical week, as public attention began to focus more closely on the race, while Walsh, who is from Dorchester, collected $49,821. The strong haul after the preliminary election suggests Connolly, despite finishing second to Walsh, may be getting a burst of support, at least from donors.
“We’re pleased with our fund-raising this month and proud of the fact that we have 900 individual donors,” said Natasha Perez, a Connolly spokeswoman. “So we feel we’re on track to raise the money we need for a victory in November.”
Walsh, however, continues to be the more successful fund-raiser of the two, beating Connolly in the overall money race every month since May. The $381,647 that Walsh took in last month is almost equal to the $383,000 he collected in August, when he led all 12 mayoral candidates in fundraising. It also represents a jump from the $245,000 he collected in July.
“In September, we had over 2,000 contributions, and over 1,300 of them were under $100,” said Kate Norton, a Walsh spokeswoman. “As you can see, we have been a grassroots campaign from the beginning, leading up to the preliminary election, and since Representative Walsh’s first-place finish on Sept. 24.”
Complete data on the candidates’ fund-raising will not be publicly available until later this month. Those details will give a fuller picture of how much of Walsh’s financial help came from union members, a major base of support for the former labor leader, as well as the makeup of Connolly’s donor base.
Beyond the money raised by the two candidates, Walsh benefits more from the heavy involvement of outside political groups, which have spent $865,659 to help his campaign. Many of those groups are affiliated with unions. Outside groups have spent just $63,577 to help Connolly. Stand for Children, an education group that is often critical of the role of teachers unions, was prepared to spend more heavily for Connolly until he called on them to stay out of the race amid backlash.
Connolly has called on Walsh to enter into an agreement to ban outside spending, by signing a so-called People’s Pledge like the one that Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren pioneered in their Senate race. But Walsh has rejected the idea, calling it “political theater from a candidate that came in second place.”
Mark Horan, a Democratic strategist in Boston who is not affiliated with either candidate, said both candidates will be stepping up fund-raising this month, as they begin to buy television ads. For both, “these are low amounts, and they don’t reflect the surge that’s going to happen over the next few weeks in this race,” he said.