After First Round, Kenyatta Johnson Vs. Ori Feibush a Cash Draw

The deep-pocketed developer and the connected pol raised similar amounts in 2014.

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

The race for Philadelphia’s 2nd Council District seat is proving to be one of the best political showdowns this year.

Incumbent 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and challenger Ori Feibush were neck and neck in fundraising last year, according to campaign finance reports released Monday.

Johnson raised about $330,400 in 2014, while Feibush raised just a hair less, nearly $327,000, during the same period. Feibush didn’t have to look far for most of that money: He gave $246,500 in cash contributions (including a $75,000 loan) to his own campaign.

If we’re just looking at cash on hand, though, Johnson is the clear winner: He finished the year with about $371,500 in the bank. Feibush, meanwhile, had about $208,000 left at the end of the year.

What’s wild is that Johnson and Feibush raised as much, and even more than, many of the mayoral candidates last year. Former Common Pleas Judge Nelson Diaz, who launched his campaign in mid-January, raised almost $88,000 in 2014, while soon-to-be mayoral candidate Jim Kenney raised about $236,000 in the same period.

The next batch of campaign finance reports that must be filed by city candidates, which are due this spring, should also prove interesting. On Jan. 6, 2015 — after the period of time covered in the aforementioned 2014 reports — the city’s Board of Ethics announced that Feibush had donated more than $250,000 of his own money to his Council campaign (Feibush declined to reveal exactly how much more).

That’s important for two reasons.

  1. Feibush’s current cash on hand position could be stronger than it appears on these campaign finance reports. We already know he’s willing to generously fund his own campaign. Johnson’s position could be stronger too, of course. We’ll find out whether that’s the case in a few months.
  2. Under the city’s so-called “millionaire’s provision,” Feibush’s contribution to his own campaign triggered the doubling of the contribution limits in the 2nd Council District race, from $2,900 to $5,800 for individuals and from $11,500 to $23,000 for political committees and unincorporated business organizations.

In case you’re wondering, yes, Feibush is the guy who Mayor Nutter called a “little jerk with a big checkbook” last month. He’s also the guy who police say helped solve a Center City murder. And he’s the guy who challenged Johnson to no fewer than 10 debates.

Like we said, it’s a hell of a race.