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The Money Race in the Democratic Comptroller Primary with One Month To Go


5x4 comptrollerl

(l-r) Top: Brian Benjamin, Brad Lander, Kevin Parker, David Weprin, Corey Johnson; Bottom: Reshma Patel, Zach Iscol, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera,Terri Liftin


This article was updated on May 29, reflecting the Campaign Finance Board's latest public funds payment made on May 27. 

As candidates filed their latest campaign finance disclosures on Friday, the Democratic primary for New York City Comptroller has become one of extremes. The leading campaigns have millions in the bank as they head into the closing stretch of the race while others will be tough pressed to compete with their limited resources. The disclosures covered the two-month period of fundraising and spending between March 13 and May 17. The primary will be determined through early voting June 12-20, primary day June 22, and absentee balloting that has already begun.

The Democratic candidates running for comptroller include several elected officials: Brooklyn City Council Member Brad Lander, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson of Manhattan, Queens State Assemblymember David Weprin, Manhattan State Senator Brian Benjamin, and Brooklyn State Senator Kevin Parker. There are also a number of first-time candidates in the race including military veteran and entrepreneur Zach Iscol, finance journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, compliance and investment expert Terri Liftin, and finance executive Reshma Patel. 

All the candidates, except Liftin, are participating in the city’s voluntary public matching funds program, run by the Campaign Finance Board, which matches the first $250 of every qualifying contribution from city residents at an 8-to-1 ratio under new rules that are in place for this election. Candidates can receive a maximum public funds payment of just over $4 million for the primary and must abide by a $4.55 million spending limit. The CFB made its latest public funds payments on Thursday, May 27, doling out funds to seven comptroller candidates.  

Johnson now leads the race in fundraising, even after having taken months off between abandoning his previous bid for mayor and jumping into the running for comptroller. He was able to move his mayoral fundraising into his comptroller campaign, though, and has now raised a total of $4.7 million including $3.8 million in public funds. He has only spent $664,000 as of the filing and has more than $4 million on hand. Johnson has 4,849 donors with an average contribution of $159. He raised $657,000 from New York City residents and $112,000 from nonresidents.   

Lander, who was previously at the front of the fundraising pack, continues to remain toward the top. He has raised more than $4.75 million, including $3.8 million in public funds. He has spent about $1.18 million and has $3.5 million left as of the filing. He has 5,329 individual donors and an average donation size of $171. He raised $861,000 from city residents and just $51,000 from outside the city. 

Iscol has raised just nearly $3.2 million, including nearly $2.2 million in public funds. He has spent about $1.18 million and has about $1.78 million in cash on hand as of the filing. The average contribution to his campaign was $388 from 2,562 donors. He raised $596,000 from within the city and about $396,000 from outside it.

Benjamin has raised nearly $2.8 million, including almost $1.9 million in public funds. He has spent nearly $1.4 million and has just about $1.4 million in cash on hand at the filing. He has a total of 2,942 donors for an average contribution of $299. He raised $632,000 from New York City residents and $247,000 from nonresidents. 

Weprin has raised about $2.6 million, which includes $1.9 million in public funds. He had $1.12 million left after the filing after spending nearly $1.5 million. He has received a total of 2,042 individual contributions with an average donation size of $321. He raised $542,000 from within the city and $113,000 from outside.  

Caruso-Cabrera has raised nearly $2 million, though that includes $300,000 that she personally lent her campaign. She just met the public funds threshold which netted her a $1.04 million public funds payment on Thursday. After spending $668,000, she only has almost $1.3 million left. She received an average of $570 from 1,082 contributors. About $393,000 came from city residents and $223,000 from nonresidents. 

Parker has raised almost $1.3 million, which includes more than $956,000 which he received in his first public funds payment on Thursday. He has spent about $231,419 and has about $1.04 million left. He had 1,458 donors who gave an average of $217. He raised $240,000 from city residents and $75,000 from outside sources. 

Patel has raised nearly $1.3 million – she also just qualified for public funds, receiving more than $1.04 million on Thursday. She has spent about $222,000 and has about $1.05 million in cash on hand after the filing.

Liftin has raised $176,000 including a nearly $105,000 personal loan to her campaign. She has spent $157,000 and has just under $19,000 left as of the filing.

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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