Dixon widens funds lead over Mitchell

Mayor has $480,000 to spend on rest of campaign, compared with challenger's $115,000

August 31, 2007|By John Fritze | John Fritze,Sun reporter

Mayor Sheila Dixon's campaign plans to report today that it has raised significantly more money than her leading opponent and that she has more than four times as much cash on hand for the rest of the election.

The latest campaign finance reports, which cover Aug. 8 through Aug. 26, will show Dixon raised $250,000 and has $480,000 left to spend, aides said. City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. will report raising $120,000 with $115,000 on hand.

"We are running an aggressive campaign on all fronts," Martha McKenna, Dixon's campaign manager, said in a statement. "The bulk of our funds are being spent contacting voters -- over the airwaves, in the mail and on their doorsteps."

The campaign finance reports, which must be filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections today, are the last time the candidates will disclose their contributions and expenditures before the Sept. 11 Democratic primary election.

Despite a widening gap between what the two campaigns are raising, Mitchell aides said yesterday that the bulk of the money they have raised comes from individual donors -- not businesses -- and they said they have enough to run an effective television ad campaign.

"The majority of our money comes from individuals, and momentum is still building for our campaign," said Mitchell campaign manager Jayson Williams. "We're going to be able to get Keiffer Mitchell's message out, which is resonating strongly with the voters."

The mayoral campaigns for schools administrator Andrey Bundley and Del. Jill P. Carter did not have numbers available yesterday. Socialist A. Robert Kaufman, businessman Mike Schaefer and PTA President Phillip A. Brown Jr. have not filed campaign finance reports in the past.

Early finance numbers came hours after Mitchell stood outside police headquarters yesterday and argued that Dixon was playing politics as she interviewed candidates for police commissioner. The Sun reported this week that front-runners for the job include former Washington Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and the city's acting commissioner, Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

"What is certain is that once again the interim mayor has chosen the route of secrecy when making decisions," Mitchell said. "She doesn't seem to understand that crime is a life-and-death situation and that playing politics with the Police Department undermines the mayor's office."

Anthony McCarthy, the mayor's spokesman, has said that the administration has interviewed five to 10 candidates since July, when former Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm stepped down. In an interview earlier this week, McCarthy said the mayor must move forward on certain issues, despite the nearing election.

"She's balancing being mayor, so she does have to move forward with things," McCarthy said. "There's an acting commissioner there, and we need to resolve that issue."

Eight mayoral candidates -- Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway Sr. dropped out of the race this week but he has an active campaign account -- must file their finance reports by midnight today. More detailed information showing exactly who gave to each campaign during August will be available in the next several days.

Finance reports released earlier this month showed that Dixon had raised nearly $1.2 million between January and August with $720,000 left to spend. Mitchell had raised more than $640,000 and had $163,000 on hand at that time.

Candidates with the most money do not always win, but it does take a large amount of cash to run successful campaigns because of the rising cost of television advertising. Fundraising is also often seen as an indication of support.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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