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Nonprofit director Raj Shukla was the top fundraiser in the latest reporting period among six candidates seeking the mayor's office in the fourth floor of City Hall.

In a mayoral campaign that continues to pull in a lot of cash, political newcomer Raj Shukla narrowly received the most contributions in the latest and final reporting period before Tuesday’s six-way primary.

The reports, which cover activity from Jan. 1 through Feb. 4, are one — but not the only — indicator of momentum in the days leading up to the Feb. 19 primary.

Shukla, executive director of the conservation organization River Alliance of Wisconsin, raised $37,735 for the reporting period. He was followed by incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin, $35,336; former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, who works for the UW-Madison think tank Center on Wisconsin Strategy, $31,020; Ald. Mo Cheeks, vice president of business development at MIOsoft, $15,609; and city equity coordinator Toriana Pettaway, $706. Comedian Nick Hart was not required to file a report if his spending didn’t exceed $2,000.

The reports were due Monday.

“It’s saying something really clear,” Shukla said. “People want something other than the same answers, the same cliches, the same campaign promises and the same people. I entered the race as an unknown to political observers in this town. I’ve outraised the mayor in the last two reporting periods. (It says) ‘This guy’s ready to win.’”

Soglin campaign manager Melissa Mulliken said “our strong fundraising report shows people trust Paul Soglin to get things done, to move Madison forward, and to develop innovative and effective initiatives that meet the challenges we face and build on the successes we’ve had.”

Rhodes-Conway also was pleased.

“Almost 650 people have joined our grassroots campaign by donating or volunteering,” she said. “And with an average contribution of just over $100, it’s clear that we’re a people-powered campaign, not funded by corporate PACs or big monied interests.”

Overall, since July 1, 2018, Cheeks still barely edges Shukla as the top fundraiser.

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Since last summer, Cheeks has raised $128,727, Shukla $128,217, Soglin $112,029, Rhodes-Conway $83,331, and Pettaway $1,061.

“Our grassroots fundraising momentum continued into 2019 and shows strong support of Mo’s vision of an inclusive, innovative and safe city,” Cheeks campaign manager Brita Olsen said.

Pettaway and Hart could not be reached.

Fundraising in the campaign continues to dramatically outpace the mayoral race four years ago.

The total $120,406 in contributions to six candidates in the latest reporting period compares to $90,301 for five candidates in 2015. But the sum four years ago was inflated due to a nearly $50,000 loan one candidate made to his own campaign. If the loan is subtracted, total contributions in the current reporting period are roughly triple that seen four years ago.

The pace of donations, in fact, continues what was seen at the start of the current campaign. The six candidates raised a combined $333,000 in the second half of 2018, compared to the total $90,000 in the second half of 2014 leading to the 2015 election.

For the latest reporting period:

  • Cheeks began with $75,363, raised $15,609, spent $32,801 and had a balance of $58,171.
  • Pettaway began with $205, raised $706, spent $189 and had a balance of $722. She also had $684 in incurred obligations.
  • Rhodes-Conway began with $25,097, raised $31,020, spent $45,968, and had a balance of $10,150. She had $13,129 in incurred obligations, and an outstanding loan from herself of $2,000.
  • Shukla began with $66,475, raised $37,735, spent $65,271, and had a balance of $38,939.
  • Soglin began with $75,138, raised $35,336, spent $37,926 and had a balance of $72,548. He also had an outstanding loan of $11,750.

The reports don’t cover financial activities past Feb. 4, as candidates continue to raise money and spend on advertising in the final days before the primary. The general election is April 2.

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