By John Schaffner
State Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) led the top three mayoral campaign candidates in fund raising during the past three months, but City Councilwoman Mary Norwood was the first to top $1 million in total contributions and has the most cash on hand going into the final four months before the Nov. 3 election.
Norwood, who lives in Buckhead but represents the whole city as an at-large council member, also was the winner of an unofficial straw poll taken recently among some members of the Buckhead Coalition, according to an unnamed source.
According to the official quarterly campaign contribution filing reports, Reed raised $500,000 during the three months between April 1 and June 30, City Council President Lisa Borders raised $403,528 and Norwood raised $313,526.
In comparison, Shirley Franklin raised almost $4 million for her 2001 mayoral race.
It was the first full reporting quarter that Reed and Borders were actively fundraising for their campaigns. Norwood, however, began campaigning and raising funds last year and is the first to break the $1 million mark, by raising a total of $1,048,534. After expenses already incurred by the campaign, Norwood reported having $490,019 in cash on hand.
During the first reporting period, Jan. 1 to March 31, Reed reported $34,650 in contributions, compared to Norwood who raised $200,000.
After their accounting for campaign expenses, Reed has $436,186 in cash on hand as of June 30 and Borders has $223,000.
As for the other two candidates in the mayoral race, attorney Jesse Spikes reportedly has loaned his own campaign $250,000 and has other donations totaling $44,000, former city employee Glenn Thomas reported he has raised $22,000.
Borders, who re-entered the campaign in April after having dropped out last year to care for her parents, set what she considered to be an aggressive goal of $350,000 in contributions for the quarter and exceeded that by more than $50,000. Much of her support apparently came from a May fund-raiser at the Buckhead home of Tom Bell, the former head of Cousins Properties. It is estimated Borders, a former Cousins executive, raised $270,000 that evening.
Borders’ new campaign manager said the new quarter, which began July 1, will focus on taking the campaign to the people through mass media and grassroots outreach.
That seems to have been the focus of Norwood’s campaign all along. A total of 962 contributions were made to her campaign in the past quarter from 34 ZIP Codes across Atlanta. Of her total 2,994 contributions to date, 87 percent came from Atlanta ZIP Codes.
“This is home-grown support,” Norwood said. “My base has always been in the neighborhoods, and it shows.
Coalition President Sam Massell, a former Atlanta mayor, would not disclose any specifics of the mayor’s race straw poll conducted by his organization, except to say the poll was totally unofficial and the Coalition has not endorsed a candidate. He said Coalition members present for the interviews with four of the mayoral candidates did not represent a large sampling of Coalition membership.
The Reporter’s source indicated the straw poll vote had Norwood eclipsing the total of the other three candidates—Borders, Reed and Spikes.