More money, more problems … is not actually an axiom in the world of politics. Raising money, after all, is one indicator of support — and ensures a candidate will at least have the ability to run a viable campaign, even if fundraising doesn’t always correlate with political success.
Last week, candidates vying for Minneapolis City Council were required to report the amount of money their campaign raised from January through the end of July, providing some insight into the campaigns six weeks before early voting begins in the first city election since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of George Floyd.
Here are three takeaways from the reports:
Some incumbents raised a lot of money
Ward 7 City Council Member Lisa Goodman has accrued more money than any other City Council candidate in 2021. For the first half of the year, Goodman’s campaign raised $100,411, and the campaign now has more than $156,000 on hand. Her fundraising for the year more than doubles the next Ward 7 candidate, Nick Kor, who raised a little more than $40,000 during the reporting period.
Several other City Council incumbents also raised substantial amounts of money. Ward 8’s Andrea Jenkins and Ward 13’s Linea Palmisano (each of whom won the DFL endorsement in their races) — raised $40,796 and $50,440, respectively. Jenkins now has more than $34,000 on hand, while Palmisano has $74,353.
Those totals aren’t as big as Goodman’s for this year, but Jenkins and Palmisano are also facing less robust competition. Jenkins’ only challenger in Ward 8 raised $0, while Palmisano’s opponent in the Ward 13 race, Mike Norton, raised $7,586 during the reporting period.
Ward 12 City Council Member Andrew Johnson, who also nabbed a DFL endorsement, raised just $5,525 during the reporting period, though his campaign also had more than $40,000 on hand. His challenger in Ward 12, Nancy Ford, raised $5,546 during the period, though that’s also all the money her campaign had on hand at the time the finance reports were released.
It’s not all good news for incumbents
In six races, the challenger has raised more money than the sitting council member: In Ward 1, which represents several neighborhoods in northeast Minneapolis, incumbent City Council Member Kevin Reich raised $27,000 but fell short of his DFL-endorsed challenger, Elliot Payne, who raised $31,971. In Ward 2 — which represents Como, Prospect Park, Longfellow, Seward and the University of Minnesota — Council Member Cam Gordon has raised $8,839, which pales in comparison to two challengers: Robin Wonsley Worlobah, who raised $45,077, and Yusra Arab, who raised $67,905.
In Ward 3 — covering parts of downtown, the North Loop and Northeast — Michael Rainville raised $74,926, or roughly three times as much as current City Council Member Steve Fletcher, who raised $23,566. In Ward 4 — the city’s northernmost ward — LaTrisha Vetaw, who is leaving her seat on the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, raised $49,065, while incumbent Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who also won the DFL endorsement earlier this year, has raised $28,504.
The gap between incumbent and challenger is also substantial in Ward 11, where City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder raised $15,323 this year compared to the $69,366 raised by his challenger, Emily Koski.
Meanwhile, the gap in fundraising in Ward 5, which encompasses the Harrison and Hawthorne neighborhoods and parts of Jordan and the North Loop, was far less dramatic. City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison raised $17,034, while challengers Victor Martinez raised $17,093 and Kristel Porter raised $22,075.
Open City Council races attract significant funding
There are no incumbents in two council races this year; Ward 9 Council Member Alondra Cano and Council President Lisa Bender, who represents Ward 10, announced they would not seek reelection.
In Ward 9, two candidates reported significant fundraising hauls: Michael Moore and Jason Chavez. Moore raised a little more than $51,000, while Chavez’s campaign has raised $23,387.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the city’s most crowded council contest, in Ward 10, has also seen the biggest influx of cash, with five of the seven candidates raising more than $20,000 during the reporting period.
Leading the pack was Aisha Chughtai, who raised $79,337, followed by Katie Jones, who raised $44,239, and Chris Parsons, who brought in $31,829. Not far behind was David Wheeler, who raised $24,995 this year, and Alicia Gibson, who brought in $21,114 during the reporting period.