How Did Philly's 2023 City Council Candidates Perform in the Money Race?

(Photo: Michael Bryant / Philadelphia Inquirer)

Christmas Day for 2023 election observers came earlier this week with the release of candidates’ Cycle 7 campaign finance reports—the first real concrete gauge of the candidates’ electoral viability.

Fundraising numbers don’t tell the whole story, of course. There’s a timing issue where different candidates started their campaigns at different points, and also, some candidates who may prove to become more viable got in late, or after the filing deadline. The Cycle 7 reports capture donations made before December 31st, 2022, so candidates who began fundraising after that date didn’t have to file one. 

But the reports do contain a good deal of insight into the relative status of different campaigns and what they’ll have available to spend in the early part of campaign season. This matters because collecting petition signatures and communicating with voters to increase name ID is expensive, and candidates with more money will be better-positioned to spend on paid communications and staff.

The Inquirer and other outlets have been parsing the fundraising data from the Mayoral candidates so far, and we’re focusing our attention on the City Council campaigns this week. A couple weeks ago we looked at the emerging At-Large Council field and grouped candidates into tiers based on perceived viability. Today we’ll go back through those tiers to see who landed where, and how our predictions might change in response to the fundraising numbers. 

City Council At-Large

Tier 1

Katherine Gilmore Richardson $256,026 / $250,382 COH (Cash-on-Hand)

Isaiah Thomas $76,203 / $200,010 COH

Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas—the two full-term incumbents—are considered to be the two frontrunners for City Council At-Large, and with each having over $200,000 in-hand at this point, they’ll both have the resources to compete. 

The two are also likely to benefit from a lot of external marketing of their candidacies, and anecdotally, seem likely to appear on most endorsing organizations’ slates, based on our conversations. 

This week Democratic City Committee’s policy committee recommended both for the Party’s endorsement, along with special election winner Jimmy Harrity, and former Human Relations Commission director Rue Landau. The DCC policy committee left the fifth slot open, but recommended that wards pick from the trio of Nina Ahmad, Erika Almirón, and Eryn Santamoor. 


Tier 2

Jimmy Harrity $56,250 / $103,479 COH

Eryn Santamoor $126,451 / $110,866 COH

Rue Landau $135,577 / $130,566 COH

Our Tier 2 predictions from two weeks ago also appear to have held up well in light of the new fundraising information. Jimmy Harrity raised less than Rue Landau and Eryn Santamoor, but has been in the mix for less time than both. Harrity’s candidacy is the ultimate insider candidacy—literally just a guy who knows the top Party bigwigs—and his individual fundraising is less important to his path to victory than is the case for Landau or Santamoor. 


Tier 2.5

Job Itzkowitz (N/A)

Donavan West $17,950 / $17,749 COH

Nina Ahmad $54,386 / $53,070 COH

Amanda McIllmurray $102,480 / $73,108 COH

Max Tuttleman $86,370 / $84,156 COH

Tier 2.5 candidates are the in-between group with the potential to take off but who didn’t quite make it into the top 5, and their fundraising totals reflect that. The three candidates who were in the race for more than a few weeks in 2022 – Nina Ahmad, Amanda McIllmurray, and Max Tuttleman – all had strong showings that put them a tick below the candidates in the first two tiers. Donavan West performed quite well during his last week of December push, but his overall fundraising potential still remains to be seen. Similarly, we’ll have to wait until the next filing in April to see how Job Itzkowitz’s fundraising is going, unless he self-reports a strong number in the interim before the next deadline. 


Tier 3

Erika Almirón $31,655 / $27,502 COH

Luz Colón (N/A)

Abu Edwards $5,000 / $4,987 COH

Terrill ‘Ya Fav Trashman’ Haigler $11,719 / $11,719 COH

J.B. Kelly $62,740 / $43,422 COH

Out of this group, only late-entrant J.B. Kelly might be considered a contender for Tier 2.5 based on where things stood in late December. We don’t know yet how these trends may have changed from January 1st onward, but there isn’t a lot here to suggest these candidates have been taking off below-the-radar. Erika Almirón may benefit from Democratic City Committee’s three-way recommendation for the fifth At-Large seat, depending on how many wards opt to include her on their slates (and, how many slates she can afford to be on.)


Tier 4

Sherrie Cohen $5,598 / $4,695 COH ($8,500 in reported debt)

Ogbonna ‘Paul’ Hagins $782 / $23 COH

Will Mega (N/A)

Daniel Orsino $20 / $10.96 COH

Michelle Prettyman $10,528 / $10,080 COH

Curtis Segers (N/A)

Jalon Alexander $10,250 / $2,853

Christopher Gladstone Booth (N/A)

Ronald Frank Martin (N/A)

Billy McCann (N/A)

Matthew Modzelewski (N/A)

Of the remaining candidates who filed reports, or who are listed on the Board of Ethics’s running list of registered committees, only Jalon Alexander and Michelle Prettyman reported totals in the same league as some of the Tier 3 candidates. There are also a few new names on the registered committee list this week, none of whom filed Cycle 7 reports: Ronald Frank Martin, Billy McCann, and Matthew Modzelewski.


City Council District Races

District 1: Mark Squilla $392,520, $312,510 COH

District 2: Kenyatta Johnson ($226,615 / $279,491 COH) , Chamara “Boogie Rose” Cotton ($50 / $50 COH), Aaron Humphrey (no committee)

District 3: Jamie Gauthier ($207,103 / $190,832 COH) , Jabari Jones (N/A) , Purple Blackwell (No Cycle 7)

District 4: Curtis Jones ($173,055 / $206,757 COH) , Darrell Smith Jr. (no committee) 

District 5: Darrell Clarke ($5,500 / $55,827 COH) , Jon Hankins (N/A) , Aissia Richardson (no committee)

District 6: Mike Driscoll $14,450 / $44,128 COH

District 7: Quetcy Lozada $12,000 / $21,968 COH , Andres Celin ($24,615 / $24,615 COH) , Mo Santana (N/A)

District 8: Cindy Bass ($111,325 / $76,792 COH) , Seth Anderson-Oberman ($30,269 / $29,710 COH)

District 9: Anthony Phillips ($42,081 / $66,983 COH) , Janay Hawthorne , Yvette Young ($1,335 / $1,285 COH)

District 10: Brian O’Neill ($104,550 / $363,265 COH) , Roman Zhukov ($5,248 / $5,165 COH) , Gary Masino ($188,100 / $186,056 COH) 

In the District races, the top fundraisers were Mark Squilla, Kenyatta Johnson, and Jamie Gauthier. All of these members have been anticipating primary challenges for a while now, and as their totals show, they aren’t taking it lightly. So far, Mark Squilla does not appear to have a contested race, while Johnson and Gauthier are both facing less-experienced first-time candidates. Johnson’s challenger, Chamara ‘Boogie Rose’ Cotton filed a Cycle 7 report with just $50 raised as of the end of December. In the 3rd District, Jabari Jones did not announce his candidacy before the reporting deadline. 

In the next tier down were Curtis Jones, Cindy Bass, and Brian O’Neill. Councilmember Jones has been thought to be unopposed until recently, but the latest Board of Ethics update shows someone named Darrell Smith, Jr. has filed for the 4th District primary. 

Councilmember Bass is facing a challenge for her 8th District seat from Seth Anderson-Oberman, a teacher’s union organizer endorsed by Rep. Chris Rabb. As of the end of the year, Anderson-Oberman had raised around $30,000. 

And in the 10th District, 42-year Republican incumbent Brian O’Neill added $104,550 to his already-large fund, ending the year with $363,265 in cash-on-hand. O’Neill’s primary challenger, Roman Zhukov, had raised only around $5,000 by the end of 2022, but Democratic candidate Gary Masino was able to raise $188,000, most of which he can hold for the general election.

In the 7th District, special election winner Quetcy Lozada and challenger Andrés Celin both have similar amounts of cash-on-hand, though Lozada will be running with the support of the Democratic ward organizations, who officially endorsed her this week. 

The big outlier of the District candidates is 5th District Councilmember and Council President Darrell Clarke, who raised only $5,500 for all of 2022. CP Clarke isn’t sitting on a big warchest, either—his cash-on-hand is only around $56,000. Whether this indicates that CP Clarke doesn’t plan to run again, or that he simply doesn’t take the prospect of a primary challenge very seriously, is a mystery no one will likely know the answer to until the petition window. 

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  • Jon Geeting
    published this page in Blog 2023-02-03 18:52:56 -0500