If fundraising is any indication, then the long and soon to be muddled race to find a person to succeed Kasim Reed as Atlanta’s mayor has found a couple of early front-runners.
City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and businessman Peter Aman, both of whom entered the race in April, have been able to amass large sums of money in a short period.
Mitchell, in recently released financial disclosure forms, indicated he’s raised more than a half million dollars. Aman, who is making his first run for elected office, has raised more than a quarter-million.
The city is still more than a year away from electing a new mayor to replace Reed, who is ending his second and final term.
State representative Margaret Kaiser, who also filed papers indicating that she would be running this past spring, has raised $153,000 in about 10 weeks from 500 donors, according to her disclosure forms. She has $108,873 in cash on hand.
“It is incredible to have such strong support this early, especially before Margaret’s campaign has even made an official announcement,” said her campaign treasurer Phil Smith.
Meanwhile, former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard, who officially declared a year ago that she was running for mayor, has raised more than $271,566 over that extended time period, including about $120,000 over the last three months.
In the most recent filing, she listed $151,000 cash on hand with 540 donors.
“My message of bringing people together and getting things done is really resonating with people throughout our neighborhoods,” said Woolard, who represented City Council District 6 and briefly served as council president before stepping down in 2004 to unsuccessfully run for Congress.
While Aman is the only early front-runner to have never held a political office, that doesn’t mean he isn’t experienced and connected.
A former partner at Bain and Co., Aman spent two years as Reed’s chief operating officer after working closely with former Mayor Shirley Franklin. He retired from Bain in June.
He reports raising $285,716 in the first quarter of his candidacy with more than 340 donors.
“I am encouraged by the strong showing of support from a cross-section of Atlantans willing to invest in my vision for a vibrant, livable and united Atlanta,” said Aman. “This first report is a strong showing of confidence that someone who’s never held public office before can compete against longtime politicians.”
Mitchell, who has been on the city council since 2002, reported raising $567,947 since he announced his candidacy. He has $507,670 cash on hand and counts 874 individual donors.
“I love this city and feel both humbled and energized by the outpouring of support from everyone who believes in my vision for Atlanta,” Mitchell said in a statement.
Lalohni Campbell, a spokesperson for Mitchell, said all the money raised during this filing period has been the result of specific campaigning for mayor.
None of the money, she said, was raised through his political action committee Atlanta NEXT.
On March 25, less than two weeks before Mitchell filed his intention to run for mayor, a 14-page complaint was filed with the Georgia ethics commission accusing him of committing multiple campaign finance violations. The complaint alleges that he spent campaign finance cash on Atlanta Falcons tickets, accepted speaker fees in excess of state limits, failed to register his PAC and used campaign funds to reimburse himself for unrelated expenses.
Campbell said Mitchell has responded to the ethics complaint and is awaiting feedback from the ethics commissioner.
Kimberley Sue Johnson Obasuyi, who is also running for mayor, has raised $300, from three $100 donations.
Perennial mayoral candidates Elbert Bartell and Debra Ann Hampton have not raised any money at all, according to their disclosures.
With seven people already declared, a crowded ballot may get busier.
More than a dozen people, including the seven who have declared, have been rumored to be interested in the open seat.
That includes at least four other members of the Atlanta City Council — Kwanza Hall, Michael Julian Bond, Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms.
State Sen. Vincent Fort’s name also has been tossed about, as have the names of Fulton County commissioners Robb Pitts and John Eaves, and at least one former mayor, Shirley Franklin.
The last date to qualify as a candidate is Aug. 25, 2017, and the election will take place on Nov. 7, 2017.