By John Schaffner
Three of the four primary candidates in the Atlanta mayoral race have all raised more than $1 million in contributions since the contest began, according to the most recent financial disclosure reports. But, that represents only part of the picture as the campaign heads into the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
Former state Sen. Kasim Reed raised the most money in the last quarter, adding $445,000 and bringing his total fundraising to more than $1.4 million.
City Council President Lisa Borders raised more than $402,000 during July, August and September, bringing her total contributions to more than $1.1 million.
Councilwoman Mary Norwood raised $312,740 during the three months, bringing her total contributions to $1.33 million.
The only other significant fundraiser among the mayoral hopefuls, attorney Jesse Spikes, raised more than $120,000 during the third quarter, which included a $71,000 loan. Spikes has raised nearly $600,000 since the race began, of which $250,000 was an earlier loan he made to the campaign.
Of the four top candidates in the campaign, Norwood by far has the most cash on hand to spend in the closing days before the Nov. 3 general election and for a runoff in December if necessary. Her cash on hand as of Oct. 1 was $620,594 after spending $182,165 during the past quarter.
In fact, Norwood has more than $100,000 more cash on hand than the other three primary candidates in the race combined. Reed’s campaign reported more than $210,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
In addition, as of the end of June Norwood had received donations from more contributors than Lisa Borders and Kasim Reed collectively.
Much of the money going to the campaigns of Norwood, Reed and Borders is coming from sources who have endorsed their campaigns or have close ties to them. And, to varying degrees, the candidates have raised money from outside of the city of Atlanta and outside the state of Georgia.
Norwood, who has marketed herself as the grass-roots candidate, has raised the lion’s share of her contributions from within the city limits of Atlanta. The contributors are spread throughout all sections of the city and with many contributions ranging from $25 to $100, as well as larger contributions. Norwood’s 29 out-of-state contributors represent less than 3 percent of total contributors.
Records show 6.5 percent of Borders’ donors don’t live in Georgia. However, more than 70 percent of her contributions have come from outside of Atlanta, primarily in counties just outside the city.
About one-quarter of Reed’s donors live outside the state and a lot of them are fellow lawyers.
Reed, who was endorsed by the North Georgia Labor Council, received contributions from that group and several unions such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America.
Norwood accepted contributions from Fulton County Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford, Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation leader John Sherman and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Guy Millner.
Borders’ donors included former state Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears and Ebenezer Baptist Church Pastor Raphael Warnock.
A recent fundraiser for Borders, arranged by Fulton Commissioner Lynn Riley brought criticism of the City Council president because Riley is a proponent of the re-creation of Milton County, which would prove financially detrimental to the city of Atlanta.
Georgia Common Cause has the contributions to candidates posted for public review on its website: http://moneywatch.commoncause.org. At the website, select City of Atlanta 2009 and click “Find.”
Along with the donors to the contested Atlanta mayoral race and City Council races, it also contains information about contributions made to people in uncontested council races.