Here’s How Much Money the Philly Mayoral Candidates Have Raised and What It Means
The 2022 campaign finance reports for the Philadelphia mayoral candidates are in. Here’s who’s bringing in the bucks, and from whom.
Finally, fund-raising front-runners are starting to emerge in Philly’s crowded mayoral race. What we’re seeing is that seven (of the 10-plus) mayoral candidates most certainly have enough money at this point to run competitive campaigns.
Last week, the public was invited to follow the money through a new data dashboard that lets everyone view the campaign finance reports (up through December 31, 2022) of all the Philly candidates in the upcoming May 16th primary. Though money isn’t everything, it will be particularly significant in a field this big. Since early polling results have been few and far between, campaign finance reports provide one of the clearest assessments of a candidate’s viability. If you’ve got money, it means people think you have a chance. And if you can’t afford to get your message out, you probably can’t win.
Here are the big takeaways from the campaign reports of the seven mayoral candidates with the most cash on hand. These figures suggest that money alone won’t be the reason any of these particular candidates drop out:
#1 Allan Domb. Cash on hand: $5,040,795. Cash spent: $1 million.
Pros: Domb’s got the most money in the race, and it’s not close: He’s ahead by $4 million. A big chunk of that comes from a $5 million donation he made to his own campaign, one he cleverly waited until December 30th — the 2022 campaign finance report deadline — to make. According to campaign finance law, candidates who put $250,000 or more of their personal money into their campaigns trigger what’s known as “the millionaire’s amendment,” which doubles the contribution limit for all candidates in that race. By making his donation when he did, Domb prevented his opponents from accessing the increased donation limits for this reporting cycle. In other words, if he had taken the loan out earlier in the race, all of his opponents would have been able to raise more money for this reporting cycle. He strategically blocked them from higher campaign fund-raising opportunities early on — which gave deep-pocketed candidates like him and Jeff Brown an advantage. Wondering why Domb and Brown were so early with TV and radio ads? This has something to do with it.
Cons: He’s the biggest contributor to his campaign — and he’s raised less money from outside donors ($700,000) than have Helen Gym and Rebecca Rhynhart, his two closest competitors in the money race. Not that he hasn’t raised a lot of money from others — he’s gotten more in outside contributions than the rest of the field. But it’s important to keep that $5 million figure in mind when looking at money as a proxy for support.
#2 Helen Gym. Cash on hand: $1,031,446. Cash spent: $287,000.
Pros: She snagged $112,600 last year from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and $37,600 from Teamsters Local 115 — a nice show of support from unions. With the second-highest-funded campaign — one that’s also being backed by polarizing entities such as the Working Families Party and Johnny Doc’s old workplace, Local 98 — Gym appears to be trying to get funding from groups with potentially conflicting interests, even if that means backpedaling on her own principles by, say, courting the General Building Contractors Association at the Union League.
Cons: Some of the big bucks Gym raised last year before she officially declared her campaign, such as the six-figure chunk from the AFT, exceed the usual city contribution limit of $12,600 — which inhibits her ability to use that money strategically in the current race. According to campaign finance laws, the money must be put in a separate account and can’t be used “to influence the the outcome” of the election. Essentially, its use was limited to the exploratory phase of the campaign; she can’t use it to pay for things like ads now.
#3 Rebecca Rhynhart. Cash on hand: $1,026,418. Cash spent: $569,400.
Pros: A remarkable 62 percent of the donations listed in Rhynhart’s report came from Philadelphia — the highest amount of local money of all the mayoral candidates, though Cherelle Parker has raised the highest percentage of local money. With only $5,000 less than the second-highest-funded campaign, Rhynhart is becoming a formidable progressive alternative to Gym.
Cons: Her buzz-worthy endorsement from former mayor John F. Street was dampened days later when her report revealed that in November, he’d been paid $22,000 by her campaign for consulting.
#4 Maria Quinoñes Sánchez. Cash on hand: $501,639. Cash spent: $67,600.
Pros: With the fourth most cash on hand, Quinoñes Sánchez has put to rest early questions about her ability to fund-raise.
Cons: The fact that she’s spent less cash than her major opponents at least partially explains her extremely low visibility thus far. When and how will she start to spend that money?
#5 Jeff Brown. Cash on hand: $469,472. Cash spent: $617,200.
Pros: Next to Domb, Brown comes in second for most money so far. Swinging in first with campaign ads on television has gotten his name out in front of voters who might be familiar with him from his grocery-store business.
Cons: Only 35 percent of the donations listed in Brown’s report came from Philly — the lowest percentage of all candidates. With $350,000 of his money spent on controversial ads, it might be time for his campaign to shift its focus to less polarizing outreach efforts.
#6 Cherelle Parker. Cash on hand: $460,222. Cash spent: $304,800.
Pros: An impressive 68.2 percent of the donations listed in Parker’s report came from Philadelphia — the highest percentage of any candidate.
Cons: Much of her money has come from smaller individual donors — campaign finance filings only include contributions from those who gave more than $50 in the last calendar year — so only time will tell if this approach is sustainable in a crowded local race where she’s trailing in fund-raising. Parker’s been hosting large chicken-and-fish-fry events to raise money for her campaign — something you hardly see any mayoral candidates do. (It’s more common in races for the state House, Council and row offices.) Will soliciting small individual donors work in a race against three candidates who each have more than a million in cash on hand?
#7 Derek Green. Cash on hand: $440,545. Cash spent: $250,700.
Pros: He has solid backing from donors across various industries — unions, law firms, Comcast/Universal, health care, developers. That perfectly aligns with his business-friendly-candidate swagger.
Cons: Only 41 percent of his itemized contributions have come from the city, giving him the second lowest local percentage of all mayoral candidates. This is surprising for a two-term citywide elected official like Green, whose mild-mannered appeal was expected to garner more support here in town. This could be due to fellow Northwest Coalition opponent Cherelle Parker, who appears to have snared a number of individual donors from the Northwest.