Follow the Richmond Money: Mayors Race Wide Open

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney blew away challengers Alexsis Rodgers and Kim Gray with September campaign fundraising. Data from The Virginia Public Access Project shows Stoney’s campaign reported $224,602, Rodgers reported $98,283, and Gray reported $83,455.

However, pundit Paul Goldman said all three top candidates are doing well financially. “I see Kim [Gray] and Alexsis [Rodgers] raising a lot of money, I think they probably could do $400,000 or more before it’s over,” Goldman said. “That’s enough to run a credible race, more than enough.”

Stoney has raised a total of $771,585 while Gray and Rodgers have raised $338,606 and $321,479 respectively.

In September, Stoney spent $171,225 in the category TV/Radio advertising, and $951 on Web/Online Ads/Email. Gray spent $25,577 on TV/Radio, $1,175 on Newspaper Ads, and $211 on Web/Online Ads/Email. Rodgers spent $20,866 on Web/Online Ads/Email.

Goldman said that TV/Radio spending is costly because it reaches people outside the city of Richmond even though they can’t vote in Richmond’s races. He said Rodgers’ spending on a web presence makes sense.

“I think she’s focusing on people under 40, they probably are the least likely to watch TV and other things, so at least she’s using the new social media, she knows how to do it,” he said. “I see her ads and I surf the internet, they’re probably the only ads that I see.”

Goldman was surprised by the low numbers of web spending from the other two candidates.

“They have to spend some money,” Goldman said.

“Obviously Stoney’s very well known,” he added. “There’s a lot of undecided [voters], or there were, so if you’re Gray or Rodgers, you’re not very well known, not as well known as the incumbent, so you need to let people know who you are, particularly the [undecided voters] who want an alternative to the incumbent.”

In September, Rodgers received 211 donations over $1,000, adding up to $71,226. She also reported 651 donations of $100 or less, for a total of $22,366.

“She’s more of a grassroots oriented candidate, in terms of where shes coming from,” Goldman said. “Younger people are used to giving 10, 20, 30 dollars out of the blue.”

Goldman added, “So the Democrats are much more into that. Younger people, the Bernie side of things, the AOC side, they’re much more into that, and that’s reflecting her basis of support. It shows a good enthusiasm so it means that her vote is likely to stay with her.”

Stoney received 105 donations of $100 or less, for a total of $3,743; he reported 149 donations more than $100, adding up to $205,736. Gray reported 77 donations of $100 or less, totaling $5,150, and 109 contributions more than $100, totaling $65,061.

“[They] have enough,” Goldman said. “Regardless of what it is, with 400 grand you can get what you need to. You can have enough staff, enough mailings, enough everything. That said, you have to manage your money correctly, but 400 grand is enough to get elected mayor of Richmond.”

Full disclosure: In September, the John Fredericks Radio Network donated $400 to Kim Gray’s campaign.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Kim Gray” by Kim Gray.

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