Just 14 weeks before the May 20 city elections, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has collected more than $157,000 in campaign contributions while challenger Colin Martin has gathered almost $18,000, according to campaign finance reports provided by the Columbus Elections and Registration Office.
Tomlinson started soliciting contributions last year and entered the new year with almost $127,000 in her war chest. Martin did not start chasing the campaign cash until January, according to disclosure documents.
Martin has spent a little over $5,000, leaving him with about $12,650 on hand. So far, Tomlinson has spent almost $43,000, leaving her with almost $115,000 cash on hand.
Tomlinson’s largest expenditures include almost $11,000 for yard signs, $7,775 for the enormous vinyl banners adorning her campaign headquarters on Macon Road, and $6,000 advance rent on her headquarters. Martin’s main expenditure was $4,319 for polling and campaign push cards by an Alpharetta, Ga., company.
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Martin said his campaign and fund-raising efforts are “going well.”
“I’ve only been raising funds for five weeks,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll raise enough money to run the kind of campaign we want to run.”
Tomlinson said she expects to raise about $200,000 for the campaign, but it will be for a different kind of campaign from the one she ran in 2010. Last time, the former attorney and executive director of Midtown Inc. had to get her name in front of people, but she was able to work at that task full time.
“The benefit of being an incumbent is you don’t have to work at the name recognition aspect, but the limitation of being an incumbent is that the vast majority of your time is spent being mayor,” Tomlinson said.
Campaign finance reports for the five Columbus Council races show that, of the five, four are so far unopposed, according to Nancy Boren, executive director of the Elections and Registration Office, only Mimi Woodson has opposition, Xavier McCaskey. Pops Barnes, Mike Baker, Bruce Huff and at-large Councilor Judy Thomas are unopposed.
McCaskey has no reported campaign contributions or expenses and no cash on hand. Woodson also reported no contributions or expenses so far and $6.38 in campaign funds available.
Barnes reported contributions of about $37,000, expenses of over $35,000 and $1,360 cash remaining.
Baker reports $16,500 in contributions, expenses of about $16,100 and about $400 in cash.
Huff reports contributions of about $815 and no campaign expenses so far.
Thomas reports about $15,500 in contributions and no expenses so far.
The May 20 election date will create a short campaign season, which should have some effect of voter turnout, Boren said. But she’s not sure what that will be.
“I believe this is the earliest primary and nonpartisan election day we’ve ever had,” Boren said. “I’m waiting to see if it will have a positive or negative effect. The criticism of the summer elections is that many people are on vacation, so we’ll see what effect the earlier date will have.”
Qualifying for the elections will be March 3-7, Boren said.