2014-10-23 / Around Town

Campaign Contributions Propel Local Elections

By Tom Shevlin

Doing nothing to upend the adage that money is the lifeblood of politics, election officials are saying that this election season will likely go down as one of the most expensive campaign seasons in Rhode Island’s history.

In the case of Rhode Island’s gubernatorial race, for example, more than $12 million is expected to be spent in both the primary and general election campaigns by the time the final votes have been counted. And for good reason.

While not always the case, in many respects the amount of cash a candidate is able to raise directly equates to his or her chance at success at the voting booth. It also serves as popular banter for the political class, and a benchmark by which journalists gauge the seriousness of a particular candidate or campaign issue.

To be sure, the amount of capital a candidate can raise is particularly important at the state and federal level, given the costs associated with running an effective campaign.

However, with the November election almost upon us, it’s also intriguing to note how much money it takes to mount a successful campaign for City Council.

In early October, like their counterparts running for state and federal office, candidates seeking local posts were required to report to campaign finance officials their latest fundraising activities 28 days out from the election.

Here’s a review of how Newport’s candidates for City Council fared.

In the First Ward, Marco T. Camacho, who is not facing a re-election challenge, reported having no funds raised and none spent as he heads toward his second term in office.

In the Second Ward, Lynn Ceglie reported raising $3,480 during the period between July 1 and Oct. 6, with $2,154.94 total cash on hand. Meanwhile, her opponent, Martha Marie Grogan, reported raising $2,200 during the same period, with $2,088 available.

In the race for the Third Ward seat, incumbent Kathryn E. Leonard reported raising $46,550 from individual donors between July 1 and Oct. 6, with total cash on hand of $53,278.26. Her opponent, challenger

John Edwards, reported raising $2,160 during the same period, with $2,604.19 on hand.

Fundraising for the council’s four At-Large seats has also been active.

In her re-election bid, incumbent Jeanne-Marie Napolitano reported raising $3,787 between July 1 and Oct. 6, with total assets of $2,924.57. Fellow councilor Justin S. McLaughlin reported raising $1,196.02 for the same period, with cash on hand of $1,196.02. Newport Mayor Henry F. Winthrop raised $2,960 during the reporting period, finishing up with $5,742.24 on hand, while Councilor Naomi Neville recorded no individual contributions from July 1 to Oct. 6, ending with $3,209.93 available.

Challenger John F. Florez reported raising a total of $100 from individuals between July 1 and Oct. 6, on top of $5,000 from a previous quarter, leaving him with $1,432.21 cash on hand. C. Andrews Lavarre reported raising $20 from individuals for the period, with $20 on hand.

The Board of Elections has not received the latest report from Councilor Michael T. Farley who reported $10.33 cash on hand for the period ending June 30, 2014.

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