(l-r) Dianne Morales, Maya Wiley, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang
With under four weeks to go till the June 22 primary, the top Democratic mayoral candidates are receiving another round of public matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board, giving several of them the boost they need in the crucial period ahead. Particularly, the payout will help four candidates better compete with several of their competitors who had already banked larger sums, some of whom have been running for mayor for much longer.
Campaigns have little time left to get their message out to primary voters – early voting begins on June 12, absentee balloting has already begun – and will need what resources they have for television and digital ad buys and get out the vote efforts.
The city’s public matching funds program incentivizes candidates to rely on small-dollar contributions from city residents, matching them at a higher rate, to discourage the influence of big money in elections. The program, which is voluntary, currently has two systems that the candidates could choose from: the new system, which matches the first $250 of every qualifying contribution at an 8-to-1 ratio and has a $2,000 individual contribution limit; and the old system, which matches the first $175 of every qualifying contribution at a 6-to-1 ratio and comes with a $5,100 contribution limit.
Almost all the Democratic mayoral candidates in the top tier opted into the new program and have benefitted from millions in public funds. They include Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Comptroller Scott Stringer, former counsel to the mayor Maya Wiley, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. The only candidate that chose the old system is former federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan. The eighth candidate considered in the primary’s top tier, former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, opted out altogether and is relying on his ties to wealthy donors from Wall Street and beyond.
The latest public funds payments were based on the candidates’ campaign finance filings that were submitted last week, reflecting the fundraising and spending period from March 13 to May 17. As of Thursday, the CFB has paid out more than $32.3 million in total to the seven participating Democratic mayoral candidates. The CFB will make one final public funds payment ahead of the primary on June 17, based on the next campaign finance filing due on June 11.
Both Adams and Stringer have raised enough funds to nearly reach the maximum public funds payout of $6.5 million under the new system.
Stringer received about $825,000 on Thursday after already having raised $3.7 million in private funds and having received $5.3 million in public funds, for a total fundraising of about $9.8 million. He has about $4.4 million in cash on hand.
Adams got about $619,000 in the latest payment, building on $4.2 million in private funds and $5.5 million in public funds already. His total fundraising comes to nearly $10.4 million. He has about $5.9 million in cash on hand.
Yang, the latest candidate to enter the race but the one with the widest donor network built off of his presidential run, received about $2.16 million in this latest payment, the most of all the candidates this round. His total fundraising amounts to $9.46 million, including $3.5 million in private donations and $3.8 million in previous public funds payments. He now has about $4.76 million cash on hand.
Morales received $1.4 million in her public funds payment. She had previously raised $844,000 in private funds and received $2.24 million in public funds, for a total of $4.5 million in funds raised. She has about $3.8 million in cash on hand.
Garcia has picked up momentum in recent weeks after being endorsed by the editorial boards of the New York Times and New York Daily News and it reflects in her fundraising as well. On Thursday, she received $2.05 million in public funds. She had already raised $1.25 million previously and had received more than $2.26 million in public funds, which now brings her total haul to $5.55 million. She has about $3.55 million in cash on hand.
Wiley received an additional $1.4 million in public funds, adding to her previous $1.57 million in private funds and $2.9 million in public funds, for a total fundraising of $5.8 million. She has about $2.4 million left for the closing stretch.
Donovan got about $316,000 in public funds. He has raised $2.7 million in private donations and previously received a public funds payment of $1.5 million, bringing his total fundraising to about $4.5 million. He has about $2.2 million left.
McGuire has raised a total of $11.7 million for his campaign as of the most recent filing. A non-participant in the public matching system, McGuire has not received any public money, and has $3.4 million in cash on hand as of the filing, almost all of which is from money he recently either gave or loaned his campaign.
READ: more detail about the leading Democratic candidates' fundraising
READ: Consultants, Advisors and Staff: Who's Running the Democratic Mayoral Campaigns?
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette