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The Money Race in the Democratic Mayoral Primary: March Filing Key for Matching Funds

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(l-r) Maya Wiley, Andrew Yang, Kathryn Garcia, Shaun Donovan, & Dianne Morales all appear on track for matching funds

The top tier of candidates in this year’s Democratic primary for New York City mayor continues coming into focus through a variety of metrics, including the latest campaign finance filings, which help indicate which candidates have gained traction with voters and will have the financial means to compete ahead of the June vote. In the heavily Democratic city, the party’s primary winner is the odds-on-favorite to become the city’s next mayor.

Monday marked the latest campaign finance disclosure deadline as candidates declared their fundraising and expenditure from the last two months. The filing is of particular importance to candidates trying to hit the city’s public matching funds threshold, which can result in a windfall of well over $1 million the next time public funds are disbursed by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, which will examine the filings.

Candidates can opt into the city’s matching funds program, which has new rules that give them the option to receive an 8-to-1 match for up to the first $250 of qualifying contributions from city residents. The candidates have to meet a dual threshold of raising and spending at least $250,000 from a minimum of 1,000 qualifying donors. (Candidates can also choose to follow older rules that come with a lower matching ratio and higher contribution limits, though few have made that choice.)

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Comptroller Scott Stringer, the two high-profile elected officials in the race and candidates who have been raising money the longest, continue to lead the pack in overall fundraising. They had been the first and only two candidates to qualify for millions in public matching funds.

The Campaign Finance Board also made another round of public fund payments, based on filings from January, and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley became the third Democrat in the race to receive public matching dollars. Both Stringer and Adams have now raised more than the $7 million spending limit for the primary for those participating in the public funds program, though that limit may increase depending on the spending of non-participant Ray McGuire, a former banking executive. It is also the first real campaign finance filing of the race for Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur and former presidential candidate who has made a big splash in the race and is continuing to cement his status toward the front of the pack with a record-breaking fundraising period.

Adams has raised more than $8.5 million in total – having raised $3.3 million and having received $5.2 million in public funds – and has more than $7.5 million in cash-on-hand going into the final three months of the primary, according to the filings. His campaign raised about $330,000 in the last two months and expects to receive roughly $420,000 in additional public funds at the next disbursement in April. He has 6,816 donors for an average contribution size of $440. Of his fundraising, $2.1 million came from New York City residents and $867,000 came from non-residents. 

“I am overwhelmed by the support our campaign has received from every corner of this city,” Adams said in a statement. “Working people -- everyday New Yorkers -- are propelling this campaign, and our contributors represent the beautiful diver sity of New York. Our campaign has the most support because we are a movement to deliver what hard-working New Yorkers deserve: a fair, safe, prosperous city that puts them first.”

Stringer has raised more than $8.1 million so far, including about $4.6 million in public funds. His campaign estimates it will receive another $720,000 in matching funds next month. He has about $6.8 million in cash-on-hand. He has 6,647 donors who gave an average contribution of $306. He has raised $1.5 million from city residents and about $480,000 from outside the city. 

“We’re building a multiracial, intergenerational, people-powered coalition to go the distance and win this race,” Stringer said in a statement. “New Yorkers want a progressive leader to rebuild New York City fairer than ever before — and they know I’ll be ready on day one to do it. It’s time for a mayor with the vision, skills, and experience to lead our recovery. That’s why I’m in this race, and it’s why I’m so proud of the growing support we’re receiving across the city.”

Wiley, former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, got the big boost of public funds on Monday, continuing her recent momentum that included key recent endorsements. She has raised a total of nearly $3 million, including the $1.9 million public funds payment. Her campaign reported raising about $330,000 since January, of which about $125,000 was in matching claims, which means she could receive another $1 million in public funds next month. She currently has about $1.7 million in cash on hand.

“This campaign has tons of momentum coming off another successful fundraising period and catalyzing endorsements from 1199 SEIU and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez,” said Maya Rupert, Wiley’s campaign manager, in a statement. “With less than 100 days left in this campaign, we will have all the funds we need to speak to New Yorkers across the five boroughs about why Maya Wiley is the changemaking woman we need at City Hall.”

Former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang all claimed to have also qualified for public funds in their new filings, though their claims have yet to be audited by the Campaign Finance Board. Should they hold true, they would receive public funds when the next round of payments is made on April 15.

Yang's campaign claimed to have garnered 15,600 donors in just two months, the most individual donations received by any mayoral candidate ever, though the actual number was 14,758 in his final filings with an average contribution size of $145. About 6,300 of those donors live in New York City, the campaign said.

Yang’s campaign has raised more than $2.1 million, including $1.09 million from city residents and $1.04 million from outside the city. His campaign claims just over $591,000 in matchable contributions from city residents that will qualify for nearly $4.7 million in public funds, for an estimated overall sum of $6.5 million. He has about $1.3 million in cash-on-hand. 

“In 57 days Andrew has visited all 5 boroughs, held dozens and dozens of public events, and built a first rate grassroots campaign with the expertise, volunteer muscle, and message needed to win,” said Sasha Ahuja and Chris Coffey, Yang’s co-campaign managers, in a statement. “Andrew’s message – that hope is on the way – is resonating with New Yorkers who are ready for the City they love to be back bustling again. With 100 days left, we have built the foundation and energy to win.”

Donovan has raised a total of $2.2 million so far and has about $718,000 in cash on hand. His campaign claims $283,000 in matchable contributions, which would give him $2.26 million in public funds at the next payout if the Campaign Finance Board agrees with the campaign’s numbers. He had 3,438 donors and an average donation of $641. He has raised $1.4 million from city residents and about $802,000 from non-residents. 

Morales has raised nearly $548,000 and has about $260,000 in cash-on-hand. She has 7,387 donors who contributed an average of $74. She raised $421,000 from within the city and about $127,000 from outside. Her campaign estimates that it received $328,000 in matchable contributions which would lead to a $2.6 million public funds payment next month.

Garcia’s campaign has raised about $590,000 in total, including more than $324,000 in matchable contributions. She would receive nearly $2.6 million in public funds if that estimate is accurate. She currently has just under $400,000 in cash on hand. She had 3,173 donors and an average contribution size of $184. She has raised $467,000 from within the city and $117,000 from outside donors.

“Our campaign is building support from a broad coalition of New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” Garcia said in a statement. “We know this race is about who is offering voters the experience and the vision to lead NYC out of crisis and into a better tomorrow. It’s not about who spends the most money. It’s about who spends money the most effectively--which is what we’ll need from our next Mayor and what I will deliver.”

McGuire, the former Citigroup executive, is the only major Democratic candidate who is not participating in the public funds program. He’s been raising a large overall sum, including from many maximum $5,100 individual donations from wealthy individuals. He has raised nearly $7.4 million, including almost $2.5 million in the last two months alone. He has 6,029 donors that gave an average contribution of $1,222. He has raised $4.7 million from within the city and $2.6 million from outside of it. 

The March 15 deadline is also crucial for candidates to qualify for the first official televised Democratic mayoral primary debate scheduled for May 13. It’s likely that all eight aforementioned candidates -- Adams, Stringer, Wiley, Morales, Garcia, Donovan, McGuire, and Yang -- will be on stage for that debate based on the criteria. They had to have raised and spent $182,150, or 2.5% of the $7 million spending limit for the race.

[Debate Schedule Set for New York City Mayoral Race]

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Note - this article has been updated with the latest campaign finance numbers. 

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