This One Super PAC Raised More Than All the Mayoral Candidates Combined

A pro-Tony Williams group stockpiled an astonishing $7 million this year. By comparison, Williams' campaign raised only $1.3 million.

From L to R: X | Photos by Jeff Fusco

Clockwise: Lynne Abraham, Nelson Diaz, Jim Kenney, Tony Williams, Milton Street and Doug Oliver | Photos by Jeff Fusco

The headline for this story would be “Mayoral Candidates Jim Kenney and Tony Williams Neck and Neck in Fundraising” if this were any other year.

But this is 2015, the first year that super PACs infiltrated a Philadelphia mayoral race, armed with the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they did not coordinate with any campaign.

American Cities, a super PAC backing Williams for mayor of Philadelphia, raised an eye-popping $6.8 million from Jan. 1st to May 4th, according to campaign finance reports due Friday. The vast majority of the group’s funding came from Arthur DantchikJoel Greenberg and Jeff Yass, a trio of multimillionaire stock traders from the suburbs who support charter schools and education vouchers.

American Cities has spent $5.4 million so far this year, leaving it with nearly $1.5 million on hand as of Monday.

Compare that to how much Williams, the state senator that the stock traders are supporting, raised in 2015: $1.34 million. Or Kenney, the mayoral candidate and former City Councilman they want to defeat in the May 19th primary election: $1.3 million.

That means the amount of the money that American Cities still had left in the bank Monday is more than any of the individual mayoral candidates raised since Jan. 1st. Or here’s another way to think about it: American Cities raised more money this year than all of the six Democratic mayoral candidates combined.

After spending $1.1 million, Williams’ campaign had about $623,300 on hand on Monday. Team Kenney had about $310,000 left over after spending $1 million.

Internal polls show Kenney leading the mayoral race, with Williams in second place and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham in third. According to these internal polls — which cannot be fully vetted by the media — former city solicitor Nelson Diaz, former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver, and ex-con and former state Sen. Milton Street have been getting numbers in the single digits throughout the race.

American Cities also vastly out-raised the most high-profile super PAC supporting Kenney. Building a Better Pa., a committee tied to electricians union chief John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, raised nearly $1.5 million in 2015. It had $22,500 on hand at the beginning of this week.

Abraham raised $1 million, close to the same amount of money amassed by both Kenney and Williams. But without a super PAC ally, she has slipped from her initial position as the frontrunner of the mayoral race, according to recent polling.

Campaign finance reports show Diaz raised $394,000, while Oliver collected about $39,200. Street did not file a campaign finance report as required, according to city elections official Tim Dowling.

Dowling also said Forward Philadelphia, a super PAC endorsing Kenney, did not file on time. Kevin Vaughan, the group’s chairman, said it did. However, a copy of Forward Philadelphia’s campaign finance report could not be found on the city’s website.