Joe Giarrusso III combined hefty donations with personal financing to seize the cash-flow edge this summer over every other New Orleans City Council candidate, including those in his District A race, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports filed this week.
Meanwhile, District B contender Seth Bloom is running second when it comes to total cash available, but first in donations collected.
And District D incumbent Jared Brossett kept his expenses low and ended the summer with more cash on hand than any other council candidate.
The reports, which cover activity from early July to early September, come a month before the Oct. 14 primary and two weeks before early voting begins Sept. 30.
They show that, even as many voters' focus remains on the mayor’s race, contenders in the seven council races and their donors are taking those contests just as seriously.
Giarrusso said the $200,000 he’s raised is a result of his kicking off his campaign early, as well as the connections he’s made over the years in a district that covers Lakeview and parts of Mid-City and Uptown. He combined that fundraising over the summer with roughly $37,000 of his own cash.
“Based on grassroots and neighborhood experience, I’ve been in contact with people from top to bottom in the district,” he said.
He will spend the $99,000 he has left on making himself as visible as possible, through digital and print advertising, until the election, he said.
Former City Council staffer Aylin Acikalin Maklansky trailed him, netting $80,000 in donations and throwing in $21,000 of her own money. The other candidates in the Council A race, all of whom are vying to succeed term-limited Susan Guidry, didn’t come close to those totals.
In District B — which includes Central City, the Central Business District and parts of Uptown and Mid-City — Bloom credits his $220,000 cash haul to the relationships he’s made during his years on the Orleans Parish School Board.
“I’m a known quantity,” said Bloom, a lawyer. “I’m perceived as a ‘good government’ candidate.”
He’s spent about half of his money on campaign communications, social media advertising, consultants and other expenses over the past two months.
His nearest District B competitor in fundraising, Jay Banks, who added only $13,000 in donations to roughly $20,000 he poured into the race himself, said Bloom’s intake is unsurprising but won’t guarantee him a victory.
“What we don’t have in his money, we do have in a proven track record and a history of community service, and a demonstrated history of helping people in this community,” Banks said.
Banks spent the bulk of his money on polling and advertising, leaving him with $9,300 by Sept. 4.
Two other contenders in a race that opened up when Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell decided to run for mayor, Timothy David Ray and Catherine Love, are neck-in-neck in fundraising. Love tossed in $11,000 of her own money to reach a $17,000 total and contend with Ray’s $21,000 haul. Both candidates are fighting to beat out Banks or Bloom for a possible runoff.
Yet another race to watch has been the battle between Kristin Gisleson Palmer and incumbent Nadine Ramsey in District C. Palmer, who represented the district from 2010 to 2014 before opting not to run for re-election, proved in the past two months that her fundraising skills have not been diminished by her time on the sidelines. With more than $100,000 in contributions, she raised more than three times Ramsey’s haul.
Ramsey, however, had a little more cash left over than Palmer near the end of the period. The district covers Algiers, the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater.
Meanwhile, Brossett, racking up $97,000 in contributions in his latest report, has been able to cool his heels in the District D race that covers the Gentilly area and part of New Orleans East, with competitor Joel Jackson having raised only $1,000. Jackson verified his total by phone; his finance report hasn’t been filed yet with the state.
Brossett ended the period with more than $200,000 in the bank, more than any other council candidate.
Incumbent Councilmen James Gray and Jason Williams raised the most of anyone in their races.
Gray, whose District E covers most of New Orleans East, plus the Lower 9th Ward, raised $64,000, while Dawn Hebert, also competing in that race, raised $16,000 and added $2,800 of her own money to that. Alicia Plummer Clivens took in $6,800 and Cederick Favaroth $1,500.
Williams, meanwhile, raised $39,200 for his Division 2 at-large run, while his competitor Jason Coleman raised only $750. Two others in that race, Aaron Christopher and David Baird, said they raised nothing; David Gregory Nowak has yet to file an updated finance report.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Helena Moreno significantly outraised state Rep. Joseph Bouie in the race to replace retiring Division 1 at-large Councilwoman Stacy Head, collecting almost five times what Bouie collected.
The at-large seats represent the entire city.
The next finance reports are due 10 days before the election.
Faimon A. Roberts III contributed reporting.