The New Orleans mayoral primary may be almost here, but the campaign contributions are still rolling in.
The top candidates have collected more than $280,000 in the last few weeks, according to campaign finance reports.
The final regular reports before Saturday's primary were filed last week, but candidates are required to file special reports on any donation of more than $1,000 through election day.
Those reports show a strong showing for City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. Through Tuesday, Cantrell had raised at least $123,000 since the last reporting period.
Donations came from Uptown business and civic leaders such as Anne Milling, Thomas Coleman and Frances Fayard, law firms, some current or potential city contractors and the campaign funds of state Rep. Neil Abramson and outgoing Councilwoman Susan Guidry.
Oddly, given her pledge to suspend the city's traffic cameras, Cantrell also got $1,000 from American Traffic Solutions, the company that runs the city’s program.
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All that brings Cantrell’s fundraising total to about $741,650 so far this year.
That’s still just a little more than half the money brought in by former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet, who now has raised nearly $1.42 million after picking up $86,500 since the end of September.
Charbonnet’s recent fundraising came largely from French Quarter and Frenchmen Street businesses and some law firms.
Cantrell and Charbonnet each got $1,000 donations from CH2M Hill, one of the contractors working on emergency measures at the Sewerage & Water Board.
Former Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris came in behind the other two front-runners in last-minute fundraising, with $45,500, largely from Jefferson Parish-based developers. His campaign has brought in about $705,000 so far, including a $150,000 personal loan from the candidate.
Businessman Troy Henry picked up $26,500 in recent weeks, injecting $10,000 of his own money into the campaign.
While the candidates are still fundraising, a pair of political action committees active in the election apparently have also been reloading. Not For Sale NOLA, a PAC attacking Charbonnet, added $20,000 to the $190,000 it had already raised.
And businessman Sidney Torres’ PAC, the Voice of the People, got $53,000 more from Torres and a company he owns. Torres has pledged the PAC would spend $100,000 in an effort to defeat Charbonnet in the primary after she snubbed a debate he sponsored.
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Stewart hitting the streets for Bagneris
It’s no secret that businessman Frank Stewart is a Michael Bagneris fan.
But Stewart is doing more than taking out his wallet for the former judge. He's hitting the streets with his wife and a crew of volunteers to urge that voters elect Bagneris as their next mayor.
Before the polls close Saturday, he hopes to pass out about 21,000 pro-Bagneris door hangers that he's paid for.
Stewart is free to spend as much as he wants as long as he doesn't coordinate his efforts with the Bagneris campaign, but he does appear to have erred by not filing disclosure forms with the state. In an interview Wednesday, he said he isn't required to file unless he spends more than $5,000, but state ethics laws actually set the bar at $500.
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In any case, Stewart is being perfectly open about his support for Bagneris, which is more than can be said for the anonymous groups slinging most of the mud in this year's campaigns.
Two groups — one supporting former City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer’s bid to regain the District C seat on the City Council and another whacking education advocate Leslie Jacobs, presumably over her own attacks on mayoral candidate Desiree Charbonnet — have gone on the offensive without filing any paperwork with ethics administrators.
In his door hangers, meanwhile, Stewart attempts to appeal to citizens tired of potholes, crime and other problems.
“Michael Bagneris will not make decisions in order to get re-elected, but to spend the next four years as a mayor making this city safe, creating jobs, fixing the streets, and fostering unity among the races,” the leaflets read.
Stewart gained prominence earlier this year after publicly criticizing Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s decision to remove four Jim Crow-era monuments around the city. He threw his support behind Bagneris earlier this year, after Bagneris said he would have put the matter up for a public vote.
Compiled by Jessica Williams and Jeff Adelson