Madison mayoral candidates January 2019 (copy)

Candidates for Madison mayor as of January 2019 are (clockwise from top left): Maurice Cheeks, Raj Shukla, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Toriana Pettaway, Nick Hart and Paul Soglin.

Over the past six months, six candidates for Madison mayor have emerged with active campaigns, including glossy literature, lively debates and fundraisers.

Tuesday provided the first opportunity to see how well candidates have brought in money with the release of campaign finance reports detailing activity from July 1 through Dec. 31.

Satya Rhodes-Conway was the only candidate to announce her campaign ahead of the filing window. Mo Cheeks, Raj Shukla, Toriana Pettaway, Nick Hart and Paul Soglin joined the race between July and October.

A few of the candidates are outpacing the rate of fundraising in the 2015 mayoral election during the same reporting time frame. The January 2015 continuing reports show Soglin raising $60,585 and challenger Scott Resnick raising $14,494.

Cheeks’ campaign has raised $113,118 in six months, which his campaign said shows voters are “looking for fresh leadership.” He announced his campaign July 12.

“The investment in Mo’s campaign from hundreds of donors shows that Madison is ready for a new Mayor,” said Brita Olsen, Cheeks’ campaign manager, in a statement. “Our fundraising in 2018 demonstrated incredible momentum for Mo’s campaign and his vision for an innovative, inclusive, and safe Madison.”

According to the report, Cheeks has spent $37,755 and has a cash balance of $75,362.

“I am humbled by the support from people all over Madison who are looking to me as they seek a new direction for the Madison Mayor’s office,” Cheeks said in a Jan. 14 press release.

Shukla, who announced his campaign July 27, has raised $90,481 in the last half of 2018 and spent $24,006, according to the report. His campaign has a cash balance of $66,474.

“People across Madison are hungry for politics built on hope, creativity, and common purpose,” Shukla said in a statement. “Our campaign brings new energy to take on affordable housing, improve our transit system, bring together a coalition around early childhood care, and grow an truly green city.”

Amanda Brink, Shukla’s campaign manager, said the fundraising reports show that Madison residents are looking for a change.

“They want someone with fresh ideas who isn’t afraid to tackle the big problems that have plagued our great city to too long,” Brink said. “Raj has the background, executive experience and leadership qualities needed to make a Madison that works for all of us.”

Soglin announced his campaign Oct. 19, months after Cheeks and Shukla, after previously announcing during a campaign for governor that he would not run for re-election. Since then, he has raised $76,693.

Melissa Mulliken, Soglin’s campaign manager, said in a statement that fundraising so far “speaks to the job Paul Soglin is doing as Mayor.”

“Paul’s leadership, his ability to solve tough problems, his honesty about the challenges we face are the qualities Madisonians have come to expect and respect from him,” Mulliken said. “Campaigns are about both financial resources and people power and we will have both going into the February Primary.”

The incumbent has spent $9,343 in the reporting window and has a $11,750 loan. Soglin’s campaign reports a cash balance of $75,138, which is on par with Cheeks and more than the other candidates.

In the past six months, Rhodes-Conway has raised $52,310 and $63,902 in 2018, year-to-date, according to the report.

Her campaign spent $36,031 in this period and $38,804 year-to-date. She incurred a $1,000 loan and $5,595 in other obligations. Rhodes-Conway is ending the period with a cash balance of $25,097.

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Rhodes-Conway, who announced her campaign May 29, noted in a statement that almost 500 people have joined her campaign.

“Political campaigns are just like anything else — it takes a village to succeed, and I’m proud to have such a diverse group of folks helping me, not just with financial contributions but with their time and expertise as well,” Rhodes-Conway said.

Candidates who do not anticipate accepting contributions, making disbursements or incurring loans and other obligations in a total amount exceeding more than $2,000 in a calendar year are exempt from submitting campaign finance reports.

Pettaway announced her campaign Sept. 12. She has raised $355, spent $150 and has a cash balance of $204. Pettaway has incurred $2,407 in other obligations.

Eric Upchurch, Pettaway’s campaign manager, said Pettaway is relying on “support from a community that is largely disenfranchised and without the disposable time and income to level the playing field.”

“When it comes to her expertise in issues of social and racial justice, Tori is the top pick to make real changes in one of the nation’s most racially disparate cities; but Madison runs the risk of missing that opportunity, because the status quo permeates our habits,” Upchurch said.

Because she did not submit the 200 signatures necessary to be on the ballot, Pettaway said she will be running as a write-in candidate.

Matt Baier, Nick Hart’s campaign manager, said his campaign has raised well under $2,000 mark and did not file a campaign finance report.

“We’re not really trying to do a big media blitz for this stuff,” Baier said while pointing to campaign literature at a mayoral forum at the Central Library Tuesday. “Even if we had the money to do it, I have certain concerns over the amount of how much any of this is going to get read.”

The next campaign finance reporting deadline is Feb. 11. The primary election is Feb. 19, and the general election is April 2. 

Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.