LaToya Cantrell’s unexpectedly strong first-place finish in the Oct. 14 mayoral primary apparently has prompted a dramatic reversal in the fundraising contest for the city's top job, vaulting what had been a cash-strapped campaign far ahead that of her runoff opponent, Desiree Charbonnet.
Cantrell has raised more than $613,000 since late September, with nearly $391,400 — or more than 63 percent — of it coming since she led Charbonnet by 9 percentage points in the first round of voting.
Charbonnet has brought in at least $489,000 over the same time frame, but only about $284,000 since the primary.
The new numbers flip the cash race on its head. Where Charbonnet quickly raced to what seemed like an insurmountable fundraising lead, contributors now seem to be betting big on Cantrell.
“Our campaign is not overconfident. We are running, regardless of what the various polls say,
as if we’re behind,” said Karen Carvin Shachat, a consultant for the Cantrell campaign. “We’re going to leave it all on the field on election day.”
Assessments of the current state of the candidates' fundraising are based on campaign finance reports released Wednesday evening, which cover up through Oct. 29, as well as special reports required whenever the candidates receive large contributions.
Those reports show that Cantrell's campaign ended the primary practically living check-to-check. Now, it has a comfortable margin as it enters the final week of the election. Though the reports do not show expenditures since the end of October, Cantrell had as much as $351,000 for the final stretch.
That money will go to both ads and field efforts. Even when it was behind in donations, the campaign managed a strong get-out-the-vote effort.
“It makes our jobs easier,” Shachat said of the money. “Instead of having to run a campaign on a shoestring budget, we now have resources that weren’t available before.”
Overall, Charbonnet still has raised the most cash — $1.8 million to Cantrell's $1.2 million.
But a spending spree in the days before the primary drained most of her total. The campaign spent nearly $725,000 from late September to the end of October, leaving it under water on Oct. 29, the last day covered by a full campaign finance report, with more than $25,000 in expenses it didn’t have cash on hand to pay.
Charbonnet appears to have climbed back into the black since then, according to the special contribution reports, but she has struggled to raise money as quickly as before. She had a little more than $109,000 on hand as of a few weeks ago.
One measure of candidate momentum is public opinion polls. Another is contributions, which are not just votes of confidence but also bets on a…