Desiree Charbonnet retained a strong fundraising lead over the rest of the pack of New Orleans mayoral hopefuls over the summer, but Michael Bagneris saw a surge of donations vaulting him into a significant position in the race, according to campaign finance reports filed on Thursday.
The reports show LaToya Cantrell’s fundraising lagged over the same period, failing even to keep up with her campaign’s expenditures.
The reports come as the campaign for the Oct. 14 primary enters its final stretch before early voting begins Sept. 30.
Charbonnet, a former Municipal Court judge who has dominated the fundraising throughout the race, remained in a powerful position in the latest reports.
Her nearly $352,500 haul between July 7 and Sept. 4 beat out her nearest competitor by almost $100,000 and gave her a total of more than $1.2 million raised since the beginning of the year.
“We are excited about the support we continue to receive. People believe strongly in our message,” said Kevin Stuart, a media consultant for the campaign.
Even after expenses, Charbonnet still had more than $490,000 in the bank going into the last month of the campaign season. That’s more than the total raised by any of her opponents.
That money will be used for a strong media presence in the last weeks of the race, Stuart said.
Charles and Richard Meyer are betting big on Desiree Charbonnet.
Bagneris, a former Civil District Court judge, appears to have benefited from recent efforts to court members of the business community, bringing in nearly $260,500 since July 7. About half his individual donations were between $2,500 and $5,000, the legal limit per election.
In his previous report, Bagneris had struggled with fundraising, with nearly all of the money his campaign collected coming from $150,000 he loaned the campaign himself.
Cheron Brylski, communications director for the Bagneris campaign, credited support from “significant civic and business leaders” such as Frank Stewart and Jay Lapeyre, who gave personally to the campaign and were instrumental in promoting Bagneris to other business leaders. Lapeyre, his family members and their businesses gave at least $25,000 to the campaign over the summer.
Michael Bagneris has won the Frank Stewart primary, and that could pay dividends for a New O…
But Bagneris’ fundraising comes with a fairly significant caveat. While most campaigns issued reports that stop at Sept. 4, Bagneris’ goes through Sept. 13. The campaign raised almost $82,000 in that additional week, almost a third of the total amount it reported.
At the end of the reporting period, Bagneris had $103,500 on hand.
To ensure he was complying with campaign finance laws, Bagneris also returned $10,000 to Stewart and his wife after Stewart independently took out ads supporting Bagneris.
Of the three best-funded campaigns, Cantrell, a member of the City Council, had the weakest fundraising during the past two months, bringing in only $140,500. That was about $53,000 less than her expenses over the same time frame, leaving her with about $125,700 on hand, far behind Charbonnet but ahead of Bagneris.
Karen Carvin Shachat, a consultant to Cantrell, said the campaign saw a dip in fundraising over the summer but that donations picked up after Labor Day, after the reporting period closed.
Shachat stressed the campaign had been picking up donations from a large pool of donors, potentially showing a wide range of support for Cantrell, and said ads and social media efforts the campaign has put out have had a large reach.
“We may not be matching our opponents dollar for dollar, but we’re matching them in every other way,” Shachat said.
Businessman Troy Henry, another prominent candidate, had relatively minor fundraising, bringing in only $25,880 since he jumped into the race in July. He currently has less than $5,000 on hand.
Henry, however, has the backing of a political action committee, the Louisiana Common Sense Fund, which paid for television ads for him that have been running in recent weeks. It’s unclear who is behind the committee, which will not have to disclose its donors or spending until about 10 days before the primary.
Tommie Vassel, a certified public accountant, raised about $21,000 and loaned his campaign $150,000 from a business he owns. Between those sources, he currently has about $157,000 on hand.
Businessman Frank Scurlock, who loaned his campaign $500,000 at the start of the race and had collected no other donations, had not filed the most recent finance report as of press time. Candidates had until midnight to file their reports.
None of the other 12 candidates in the race reported receiving significant donations, aside from money they gave or loaned to themselves.