Why Money Matters In Mayoral Campaigns

Money is the mother’s milk of mayoral campaigns. Wednesday is the deadline for mayoral candidates to file their first quarter campaign finance reports with the Town Clerk’s Office. The reports will provide a marker for candidate relevancy.

The amount of money Mayor Joe Ganim raises moving forward is not within question: he’ll amass mountain ranges of moolah. The larger question is what will his opponents State Senator Marilyn Moore and State Representative Charlie Stallworth bank?

Moore has been raising money since February and put on a strong push in March with 12 fundraising events, according to her Facebook page, including several venues outside of Bridgeport leveraging her relationships in the legislature as well as supporters embracing her progressive credentials.

Moore is leveraging her legislative contacts.

The first quarter fundraising is the key one to watch because the early money is always the easiest money to raise when friends, relatives, neighbors and core constituencies step up first. Establishment money and serial givers tend to support the incumbent mayor so it’s key for opponents to showcase fundraising strength early. If it’s not there early it tends not to show up.

Money alone does not win mayoral races in Bridgeport; the other components, organization and message must be in place. But money helps to drive the message and organization, the infrastructure necessary to turn out an election-day vote. So how can money be measured?

In the modern history of city elections covering the past 30 years, roughly $250,000 is generally the benchmark for opponents to compete. Four years ago Joe Ganim reentered the city’s political scene raising more than $200,000 in his first quarter fundraising effort. Ganim, a relentless fundraiser, did not officially enter the race for the city’s top position until early May after raising more than $50,000 in one night in an exploratory phase for mayor in April.

Ultimately Finch’s reelection campaign spent about $600,000 doubling Ganim’s total. Ganim proved that given the right campaign machinations an incumbent can be taken out in a primary despite a significant fundraising advantage. So it boils down to this: what’s needed to compete?

The Moore campaign has not yet released fundraising totals but for argument’s sake let’s say $75K is raised for her first quarter. If she can match that in the next quarter fundraising period ending June 30 she’d have raised $150,000, leaving another 10 weeks or so to bank additional dollars assuming she wages a primary challenge. Opponents raising larger dollars heading closer to the vote depends on a number of factors including the challenger’s momentum, standing of the incumbent and the campaign intangibles that take on a life of their own.

Additional dollars can also be spent in the cause of electing or defeating a candidate via independent expenditures outside candidate committee reports. Such expenditures cannot be coordinated with the benefiting campaign or candidate.

Stallworth did not formally enter the mayoral race until early March so whatever number is posted in his first report will reflect money raised in just three weeks.



  1. Lennie,
    First you say $75K, then you immediately double that to $150K and then some.
    Do you have a minimum number or is it always open to interpretation?

      1. Don’t you think mailers are a bit overused in today’s campaigning?
        It’s almost as if no one wants to do away with it just in case they lose and people say it’s because of that.

  2. Shouldn’t you develop a budget first and then decide how you make that do?
    Rather then keep on raising money and spending money, set a target and make that work.
    Isn’t this how Finch managed to raise $600,000 and still lost? He kept raising money and by the law of diminishing returns the delta in dollars became more and more (or should I say less and less) impactful?

    1. If Watergate taught us to “follow the money”, this campaign tells me to follow the bond money!
      In a matter related to this post’s pictures,
      (ahem) Subliminal messaging or clever observation?
      Marilyn Moore’s wearing vertical stripes and every PR manual says a man wearing a suit with hands in pockets has something to hide.

  3. I wouldn’t mind if Moore got more involved,vocally, in this race.I mean there is so much to go after Joe about,pick a few..the scrap metal fiasco,announcing developments just for headlines,that never actually happen,doing a “‘national search” for a police chief,knowing all along he was going to hire his friend in the end,Joe basically leaving the city for 18 months on his ridiculous run for governor,etc,etc,etc..

  4. Tuesday Night , Should be a lot of fun. Needless to say I will be there. For an hour or so as I was elected to the Board of Directors at my Condominium and my first meeting is at 7:30 on Tuesday. The amount of support Mayor Ganim is getting is because the Business Community is betting on it’s future and the belief that Ganim will deliver. Even Black Rock is changing it’s tune and that is just icing on the cake. :-).

  5. Bond money matters more.
    Don’t let their skin tones or genders fool you.
    Mayor Ganim and Marilyn Moore are nearly identical!
    Here’s why: last year, Ned Lamont and Marilyn Moore were seen walking arm in arm through Trumbull Gardens. Last month he put her in a debt diet. She had abused over-used borrowed money.
    Last year, Ganim did the same thing, using bond money to buy pensions.
    There’s only one thing worse than socialism and that’s selective socialism.
    To the delight of Bridgeport pensioners and Moore’s constituents, that’s what happened and bond money paid for it. Bond money takes the capital out of Capitalism.

  6. Unlike Uncle Sam, who can print or borrow dollars, Bridgeport and Connecticut do not have sovereign currencies. Consequently, our debt lingers longer and hurts more. Doing more of what’s failed will not help. Borrowing money always means spending tomorrow’s earnings today and never producing value in excess of its cost.

    In other news, Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford made the Top 40.
    To read the whole story, put this in your browser:


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