Mayoral candidate Eileen Brady and her husband, Brian Rohter, have contributed generously to Brady's campaign—$95,508 in cash and loans (including a bequest from Rohter's late mother). That is a lot of money but less than 10 percent of the more than $1 million Brady has raised in her initial foray into politics.
Somewhat surprisingly, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz who first won election in 2008 using public funds, is far more dependent on self-financing than is Brady. The difference is surprising because Brady is wealthy and Fritz is not and because the premise of public financing—which voters scrapped in 2010—was that candidates should have a broad and deep connection to the average voter.
But in her re-election campaign against State Rep. Mary Nolan (D-Portland), Fritz, a former psychiatric nurse, has declined to tap the usual suspects (downtown developers, unions and wealthy individuals) for contributions. That decision has deprived her of much of the traditional power of incumbency and left her reliant on her own savings.
Filings with the state show that since the beginning of last year, Fritz has raised $149,327 for her re-election campaign. Of that amount, she loaned herself $50,000 and in the past couple of weeks, made in-kind donations to her campaign of another $60,802. All told, Fritz has contributed 74 percent of the money her campaign has raised.
It's not uncommon for candidates to lend their campaigns money: state treasurer Ted Wheeler and mayoral candidate Eileen Brady have done so recently. Fritz's decision to purchase mail and media with her own money and then declare those purchases as in-kind contributions to the campaign are less common, in part because they eliminate the opportunity to raise funds to pay off campaign loans.
Fritz's campaign consultant Hiram Sachs points out that because Fritz is only accepting nominal contributions from ordinary citizens, fundraising the money it takes to run a city-wide campaign was not going to happen.
"Since Amanda limits her contributions to $50 and doesn't take special interest money, she's always planned to use her savings during the campaign," Sachs told WW via email. "In-kinding the media buy payments is a very transparent for voters to know who's paying the bill: Amanda herself."
With 15 days until ballots get counted, Fritz has $24,000 on hand; challenger Nolan has $117,000, all of it other people's money.