As the tight race for Toledo mayor enters its final week and a half, candidate Ray Kest has nearly five times as much campaign cash to spend as opponent Jack Ford - at least for now.
Campaign finance reports, filed yesterday, show that a host of union contributions and a record fund-raiser helped Mr. Kest, the Lucas County treasurer, raise $178,675 since Aug. 30. Mr. Ford, a state representative, raised $112,128 during the same period.
Mr. Kest already had banked more money than Mr. Ford. That, and his latest contributions, have left Mr. Kest with a decided financial advantage in the race that could see spending from both candidates top $1 million - a record in a Toledo mayoral race.
Now the Kest campaign has $205,128 to spend for a host of crucial last-minute campaign needs, such as a flurry of media ads. The Ford campaign has $45,065 to spend.
Still, there's time to raise more money, and Mr. Ford does have a wildcard: U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who could pump some of her campaign war chest into his fund.
The reports show that Mr. Kest wasn't kidding when he said he has the support of unions, with donations of:
The AFSCME and Carpenters' contributions came from an Oct. 12 fund-raiser that raised a record $119,100 at a $1,000-a-plate event at the Navy Bistro, an event that also included a cadre of developers and business owners. The Oct. 12 amount beats the previous, short-lived record - about $75,000 - that Mr. Kest raised in May.
The May event had broken an 8-year-old record of $70,000 raised by former Democratic Party chairman Bill Boyle in an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 1993.
Mr. Kest, in all, had 79 contributions of $1,000 or more - 10 from unions and two from non-union groups or companies. Of the remaining 67 contributions, 38 came from people listing Toledo addresses - or 57 percent.
Jerry Chabler, Mr. Kest's lead money-raiser, said the latest report shows Mr. Kest's support stretches from labor to business - a common theme of the Kest campaign.
“It's a wide range of contributors there,” he said.
Mr. Ford had 28 contributions of $1,000 or more - four from unions and three from nonunion groups or companies. Of the remaining 21 donors, eight came from Toledoans, or 38 percent.
Mr. Ford's biggest donations were:
Perhaps the biggest disparity in the two reports was in the number of small donations.
Mr. Kest's smallest listed donation was $20, an amount given by two people.
Mr. Ford, in contrast, had 98 people give $10 or less. One gave $2 - the lowest recorded donation.
Jim Ruvolo, a Ford strategist, said the campaign is proud of its “grassroots” support and it believes it will raise enough money to win.
“We've got enough money to get our message out, and we will spend it,” he said.
And Mr. Ford could have a big donor in the waiting.
The Kest camp expects Representative Kaptur to donate a “significant” amount to Mr. Ford, perhaps $80,000, Mr. Chabler said.
She had $730,175 in her campaign fund as of Wednesday. And - unlike in state or federal races - there is no limit on how much one person can donate to a Toledo mayoral campaign.
Ms. Kaptur said she hasn't decided how much she will give to Mr. Ford's campaign, but she
“He's not looking for a fairy godmother. He's going to win this fair and square on his own,” Ms. Kaptur said.
Still, she wouldn't be the first big donor to the Ford campaign. The United Auto Workers pumped $50,000 into the Ford campaign in two donations over the summer, donations that were listed in an earlier campaign finance filing.
The most recent filing shows that the Ford camp not only didn't raise as much as the Kest camp, but the Ford camp outspent its opponent.
The Ford campaign spent $177,880 during the reporting period, $135,810 for media advertising. The Kest campaign spent $162,325.49 during the reporting period - $105,772.37 on media.