Competing against one another for the first time on equal footing, each of the major candidates for Atlanta mayor reported healthy fund-raising figures for the quarter that ended June 30.
And while the totals vary, each is claiming victory.
State Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) outpaced his opponents, reporting more than $500,000 in donations in the period that began April 1. City Council President Lisa Borders reported $403,528 in donations, while City Councilwoman Mary Norwood raised $313,526.
Jesse Spikes and Glenn Thomas, two other candidates who have gathered support, trail the three front-runners by wide margins. Spikes has loaned his campaign most of its money.
Harvey Newman, a Georgia State University professor who has studied Atlanta politics, said the latest disclosure reports reflect the difficulty the candidates have had raising money amid a recession. Shirley Franklin raised about $4 million for her successful 2001 mayoral bid.
Newman said the numbers show Reed's viability and that Borders has traction. He said he was somewhat surprised Norwood didn't raise more money. Of Spikes, Newman said, "it looks like he's floating his own boat," referring to the loans.
During the last reporting period, from Jan. 1 to March 31, Reed reported $34,650, compared with Norwood, who had raised more than $200,000.
But Borders had just re-entered the race in April, and her disclosure listed no donations. She had dropped out of the race in August. And while the state Legislature was in session, Reed was prohibited from fund-raising.
Reed said he was going to remain even-keeled about the money he raised.
He acknowledged the difficulties of raising money after an Insider Advantage poll said he was in the single digits behind Norwood and Borders.
Despite her third-place finish in the most recent money race, Norwood said the more important point is she's the first candidate to break the $1 million mark in campaign donations.
Norwood argued the campaign is in great shape, noting the handful of polls done thus far show she's leading the race. The candidate also noted she has more money in the bank than Borders and Reed.
According to her disclosure, Norwood has $490,000 in cash on hand. Borders has $223,000, and Reed has $436,186.
"In campaigns, it's about how much money you bring in and how much money you are spending," she said.
Norwood said 87 percent of her contributions came from Atlanta ZIP codes, showing her support among city residents is stronger than that for the other candidates.
"My base has always been in the neighborhoods," Norwood said, "and it shows."
Borders' camp said the $400,000 she raised exceeded her quarterly fund-raising goal by more than $50,000.
Much of her support apparently came from a May fund-raiser held at the Buckhead home of Tom Bell, the former head of the giant development firm Cousins Properties. Campaign officials estimated they raised about $270,000 that evening for Borders, a former Cousins executive.
Stacey Abrams, Borders' campaign manager, said that instead of looking at the fact that Borders came in second in fund-raising behind Reed, the most important aspect is that she was able to tap into potential voters after she had gotten back into the race.
"Upon getting back into the race, she has been able to match the two major opponents to the dollar. That says volumes about our momentum," Abrams said. "It says she is in the hunt."
Abrams said that for the next quarter, which began July 1, Borders will focus more on taking her campaign to the people "through mass media and grass-roots outreach."
"We are going to use every media available," Abrams said. "But the best media is getting Lisa in front of every single voter."
Spikes, a partner at the powerful law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge, loaned himself $250,000. His other donations totaled about $44,000. By June 30, Spikes said he had $200,671 in his campaign war chest.
Asked about the loans, he said through a spokeswoman: "I've always believed in the ability of this campaign to be victorious. ... I am committed to doing whatever is required to get the message to enough voters to do just that."
Thomas, a former budget manager for the city's Management Services Office, said he raised $22,000.
"I am enthusiastic about our campaign continuing to motivate the people of Atlanta and staying focused on communities," Thomas said. "As long as we continue to shake hands, knock on doors and talk specifically to solutions, we will be victorious."
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