Connolly turns to donors of losing mayoral candidates

Raises $600,000 in first half of October to Walsh’s $210,000

Mayoral candidate John Connolly.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff
Mayoral candidate John Connolly.

Councilor John R. Connolly amassed his fund-raising haul in the opening weeks of the Boston mayoral general election by corralling donors of failed preliminary race candidates, obtaining support from some of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s key allies, and seeking even more money from his reliable base of attorneys and developers, a Globe analysis of campaign financial records shows.

His strong showing during the first 15 days of October, when he raised more than $600,000, was seen as critical to help him compete with the outside labor spending that has buoyed the campaign of his opponent, state Representative Martin J. Walsh.

Walsh over the same period raised $210,000 — from a diverse set of donors including construction executives and firefighters — but has benefited from at least $1.5 million in spending on television ads and campaign mailers by groups not affiliated with his campaign.


The astounding amounts raised over little more than two weeks not only will help the candidates go to the airwaves to make their case before the Nov. 5 election, but can provide a level of insight into some of the support aligning behind each.

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Almost all of the money raised by both campaigns in early October came from within the state. But both raised roughly half of the amount from outside the city of Boston, according to a Globe analysis of receipts filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Within the city, the candidates drew from their traditional bases, with Connolly dominating in the western neighborhoods and Walsh in Dorchester and South Boston. Both candidates also drew significantly from Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and downtown.

While Walsh has won endorsements from several of the 10 candidates who lost the Sept. 24 preliminary, Connolly now appears to be receiving more money from their financial supporters: The city councilor received about 70 percent of the money donated by people who had previously given to one of the other candidates, the Globe found.

For example, donors who had previously given to City Councilor Mike Ross donated about $38,000 to Connolly and $8,000 to Walsh during the first two weeks of October. Donors who had previously backed Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley gave about $35,000 to Connolly, compared with $12,000 for Walsh.

Even donors to the candidates who endorsed Walsh — Felix G. Arroyo, John Barros, and Charlotte Golar Richie — have generally chosen instead to go with Connolly during the general election.


“It was kind of like there was a release valve after the primary,” said Paul Scapicchio, a former city councilor and Connolly backer who co-hosted a fund-raiser for Connolly in early October.

Because of inconsistencies in how donors provide information in fund-raising records — as well as the hundreds of donors who do not list their occupations when they give money — it is impossible to break down exactly from where all of the money being funneled into the Walsh and Connolly campaigns is coming.

But records show that significant chunks of Connolly’s war chest have come from those working in the legal, real estate development, and financial sectors who have contributed at least $700,000 to his campaign since January.

Much of Walsh’s fund-raising has come from members of various workers unions, including police officers, firefighters, and laborers, who have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign.

“The amount of enthusiasm at the rank-and-file level is a clear indication of how much support Marty has from the working men and women in the city,” said Jim Durkin, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 93, the union that represents 2,000 city employees and has endorsed Walsh. “These members are not wealthy by any means, so the fact that many of them are giving tells you how passionately they feel about this race. When we endorse, it isn’t just a press release. It’s followed by action.”


The 12-candidate preliminary caused many business leaders to hold back financial support until after the Sept. 24 vote narrowed the field to just two candidates.

While many prominent business leaders have still yet to support either Connolly or Walsh, others who had previously stayed out of the race chose to get off the sidelines after the preliminary vote.

In early October, Walsh’s campaign received $500 checks from donors including Thomas Goemaat, chief executive of Shawmut Design and Construction; and Alan Leventhal, chief executive of Beacon Capital Partners.

Connolly took in checks from Herb Chambers, the luxury car mogul; Dave Goldberg, chief executive of Survey Monkey, a Web-based survey firm; Jack Manning, chief executive of Boston Capital; and Lawrence Fish, former chief executive of Citizens Financial Group.

In addition to many business leaders, there was another major figure who sat out the preliminary race: the man currently running City Hall.

Since the preliminary, much has been made about whether Menino would back either Connolly or Walsh, both of whom have had, at times, rocky relationships with the mayor.

In early October, Menino informed members of his political machine that they were free to join the campaign of either finalist, and he has repeatedly insisted that he will not endorse either.

Menino foot soldiers are now working for both campaigns, but much of the mayor’s money machine was inherited by Connolly.

Records show that the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations deposited by the Connolly campaign in the first weeks of October included checks from several prominent Menino allies, friends, and fund-raisers.

Perhaps most significant were $500 checks to Connolly written by David Passafaro, Menino’s former chief of staff who has been one of the mayor’s closest advisers for decades, and Robert F. Walsh, a former BRA director and friend of the mayor’s for more than 30 years who has long been one of Menino’s top fund-raisers.

Both men had given money to other mayoral candidates in the preliminary, with Passafaro giving a few hundred dollars each to Ross and Rob Consalvo while Robert Walsh gave money to Barros, Conley, and Consalvo.

Connolly also picked up the support of restaurant owner Vincent Marino, a relative of Menino’s wife, Angela, and attorney Henry Kara, both of whom have been longtime fund-raisers and donors for Menino.

Even with the mammoth fund-raising push by Connolly so far in October, the city councilor is still at a monetary disadvantage when taking into account the third-party money spent on Walsh’s behalf.

Special interest groups have two ways of spending money in elections: They can give limited donations directly to the campaign, and they can also file “independent expenditures” — money spent on behalf of the candidate but not handled by the campaign.

While individual donations to candidates are limited to $500, labor unions are allowed to give up to $15,000 directly to the campaigns.

Walsh has received almost $488,000 in direct donations from unions across the country and $1.5 million worth of canvassing, advertisements, and mailers that have been financed by labor unions through independent expenditures.

Connolly has not received any union checks so far this year, and to date has benefited from just $73,000 worth of independent expenditures, almost all of which came at the beginning of the preliminary race.

During the summer, after Stand for Children, an at-times controversial education nonprofit group, pledged to spend $500,000 for Connolly, the candidate swore off outside spending.

After the preliminary, he attempted to get Walsh to also disavow outside spending, but was unsuccessful.

Stephanie Ebbert of the Globe staff contributed to this article. Wesley Lowery can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.