Where The Green Is Going in the Paper City’s Preliminary…
UPDATED 4:10PM: For clarity and grammar and to reflect a correction. An earlier version of this post said O’Connell had not spent money on rent. He is, in fact, paying Pic’s Pub rent.
Campaign finance reports detailing spending and fundraising in Holyoke’s mayoral preliminary became available Monday night, about a week before next Tuesday’s mayoral preliminary there. Because Federal Communications Commission filings already revealed the princely sums challenger Francis “Fran” O’Connell had spent on advertising (and incumbent Alex Morse’s own knack for fundraising), the reports were a highly anticipated look into the state of the race.
The filings, which cover the period from January 1 to September 4, indicate O’Connell’s campaign war chest has kept even with Morse’s, but only after large infusions of the former’s own money. Each candidate’s spending, likewise, has been roughly on par. However, Ward 2 Councilor Anthony Soto, has struggled to access as much money as either Morse or O’Connell.
As in West Springfield, campaign finance reports for mayor are now collected by the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance, following an update of the law last year.
Both Morse and O’Connell had about approximately $87,000 to spend through September 4, although $12,000 of Morse’s cash was carried over from last year. Of O’Connell’s haul, however, $77,500 were loans to himself. At the end of the reporting period, Morse had about $36,000 left in the bank, while O’Connell had about $28,000. Morse had no liabilities, while O’Connell’s only debts were moneys he lent himself.
About $28,000 of Morse’s funds and roughly $6,000 of O’Connell’s came from Holyoke, excluding self-funding. The incumbent was far more successful raising funds outside Holyoke, with. Morse raised $6670 from Boston residents, more than any community after his hometown, but overall, most non-Holyoke dollars come from the 413. Morse has scheduled a fundraiser out east, headlined by Attorney General Maura Healey.
One notable out-of-state Morse contributor is Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. The rep has, in the past, raised money for Morse, who interned in his office while attending college in Providence.
Beyond the self-funding, O’Connell’s contributors include few names that stand out beyond Holyoke circles. Some business owners maxed out and past and present pols, including a few council hopefuls, gave token amounts.
Soto raised about $11,900 since the beginning of the year and transferred an additional $3200 from his city council account. Through September 4, his campaign spent $9,800 leaving him with $5,300 cash on hand. His campaign recorded a nearly $1,600 liability to a company that produced campaign materials.
Soto’s fundraising was more disparate with some notable pockets of support across the region and the state. His wife, retiring Fitchburg mayor Lisa Wong, maxed out to him. Another notable contributor was former state Treasurer Steve Grossman, who gave $500.
On the spending side, Morse and O’Connell campaign costs reached $50,000 and $58,000 respectively. By far O’Connell’s biggest line items have gone to Market Mentors. The West Springfield-based marketing firm, which also handles his homecare company’s public relations, has performed a broad array of services for O’Connell including design, press relations, social media and ad-buying.
On O’Connell’s behalf, the firm purchased $15,000 in local ad buys in June. All told, O’Connell has paid Market Mentors $36,100 through September 4, including the cost of placing those ads. FCC reports show O’Connell bought $6724 in ad time from today through the preliminary on WGGB, although nothing yet on WWLP.
Another $15,000 went to DAPA Research, likely for polling and other political information services. Much of the rest went to food, fundraising venues, postage and staff including $1500 paid to Angela Gerhard, the former staffer who claimed O’Connell made sexist remarks and planned to farm out certain mayoral duties.
Based on its report, the Morse campaign has spread its money around differently. It spent $9500 on polling and political research from Connection Strategies and Shield Political Research and invested $2000 in the services of NPG VAN, a Somerville-based company that produces campaign data management software.
Other tech investments included $3000 in website design and marketing paid to Northampton and Springfield vendors. Morse has also spent $233 on Facebook advertising, approximately $6800 for printing, signs and mailing and $2500 for videography. A source close to the Morse campaign told WMassP&I not to expect pre-preliminary TV advertising.
Morse has two paid staffers, Finance Director, Kate Froelich, and Campaign Manager David Grizzanti.
Both Morse and O’Connell have campaign offices. Morse has expended $3900 for his headquarters including utilities and O’Connell spent $1250 in rent.
Soto’s limited funds restricted his expenditures, although he managed to spend $2000 in printing and signs, $900 in campaign office rent and another $1500 in consulting.
While Holyoke mayoral campaign spending dwarfs the sums spent in West Springfield’s preliminary, the emphasis on research, data and other investments seem to look past September 22. All three candidates are likely preparing for the preliminary by laying groundwork for the general election.