With $1 million in bank, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says fundraising just getting started

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is stocking a war chest that could prove daunting to potential competitors in the lead-up to the November 2013 election for Atlanta mayor.

Reed's campaign raised more than $446,000 in the first six months of 2012 and had $1.04 million in cash on hand as of June 30, according to filings with state ethics officials.

With more than 14 months to go before the election, that's a lot. For context: Shirley Franklin had raised about $1.3 million for her campaign eight months before her first election in 2001. And eight months before the election that Reed eventually won, the 13 candidates had raised $1.7 million, combined.

Reed said he's just getting started. The first-term mayor plans to significantly increase the pace of his campaign's fundraising before the end of the year, with up to 15 events in Atlanta and in other cities including Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

"We spent almost no time on fundraising" in the first half of 2012, Reed said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If you looked at the data, you can tell we didn't really work at it."

More than 90 percent of the dollar contributions came in a flurry in June, the last month of the reporting period.

Among the donors listed in the most recent disclosures with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission:

  • Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons ($2,500)
  • Real estate developer John K. Dewberry ($1,000)
  • H.J. Russell & Co., a major Atlanta-based contractor ($1,000)
  • The "Committee for Responsible Government" at Holland & Knight, Reed's former law firm ($1,500)

Reed's campaign also got donations from people who work for the city, including parks commissioner George Dusenbury, chief operating officer Duriya Farooqui, watershed commissioner Jo Ann Macrina and two members of his communications team.

No one has spoken up to challenge Reed in next year's mayoral election.

Harvey Newman, a professor of public policy at Georgia State University, said Reed's built-in advantages include the bully pulpit of the mayor's office and Atlanta's historic friendliness to incumbent mayors running for reelection. But he still needs the cash.

"It is really getting expensive to run for the mayor of Atlanta," he said. "A million in cash on hand sounds like a lot, but he's going to need a lot. You want to have a war chest to ward off potential opponents."

Reed's campaign spent roughly $92,000 in the six-month reporting period between Jan. 1 and June 30.

The campaign spent $138 on an official business meeting at STK, a chic steakhouse in Midtown, and $600 on two meetings with campaign consultants at the downtown W Hotel. More than $5,500 went to Delta Air Lines for official business travel.

The campaign paid self-employed fundraising consultant Fawn Dickinson $9,000 and another $4,800 to consultant Amelia Bower.

More than $7,600 was spent on a fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in honor of Reed's birthday, with another $2,500 laid out for a birthday reception.

The pace of fundraising appears to have ramped up. Earlier this year, Reed reported that he raised about $280,000 for his re-election campaign in the last half of 2011.

That brings Reed's fundraising totals to $4.22 million since he launched his mayoral run in 2008.

"If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready," Reed said. "You run a fully built-out campaign. I will not take any vote for granted."