Madison mayoral candidates (copy)

The spring election was costly. Candidates for Madison mayor are (clockwise from top left): Mo Cheeks, Raj Shukla, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Toriana Pettaway, Nick Hart and Paul Soglin.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway raised more money and outspent all candidates in the 2019 mayor’s race, according to campaign finance reports. 

The latest reports, which were due Monday, covered activity for from March 19 through June 30. In that reporting period, Rhodes-Conway raised $82,585. From Jan 1, 2018 through the end of June, Rhodes-Conway raised $303,261.

“All along, the challenge was being up against an incumbent who had 100% name recognition,” Rhodes-Conway said. “The only way to do that is to make sure you get your name and your message out.” 

Rhodes-Conway, elected with nearly 62 percent of the vote, spent $102,420 in the latest reporting period. Rhodes-Conway’s campaign reported $5,219 in cash on hand and outstanding loans of $2,163.

Former mayor Paul Soglin, who lost to Rhodes-Conway in the general election, raised $58,975 in the reporting period and $258,733 since January 2018. His campaign spent $128,603 in the latest period and reported a cash balance of $5,125 in addition to outstanding loans of $10,700. 

Campaign finance reports from January 2018 through June 30 show Rhodes-Conway and Soglin spent more than the top two vote-getters in the 2015 and 2011 elections.

In the 2015 election, Soglin and challenger Scott Resnick spent a combined $257,562 from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. In the 2011 election, Soglin and Cieslewicz spent a combined $467,083 during the same 12-month period in 2010-2011.

Rhodes-Conway said she hopes that the high spending levels are not a continuing trend in mayoral campaigns and that society works to keep money out of politics. 

“Any campaign needs resources to get its message out, so there’s a certain amount of that that's inevitable,” Rhodes-Conway said. “One of the things we should try to be doing collectively is to make sure elections stay accessible to people.”  

Former Ald. Mo Cheeks and nonprofit leader Raj Shukla were on the primary ballot but did not advance to the general. Nick Hart, a local comedian, was also on the ballot and Toriana Pettaway, the city’s racial equity coordinator, ran as a write-in candidate. 

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Cheeks raised $13,322 in the latest period, spent $61,188 and reported $3,804 in cash on hand. In total, Cheeks raised $142,049 and spent $138,245.

Shukla, of the River Alliance of Wisconsin, reported raising $477 in the most recent period, spent $139 and reported a cash balance of $2,148. In total, Shukla raised $149,099 and spent $146,950.   

Hart did not file campaign finance reports because his fundraising levels were under the reporting requirement. 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 raised $2,081 and spent $1,876. She reported no cash on hand and incurred obligations of $2,534.

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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.