Lightfoot raises another $1 million for reelection bid. Is it enough to pull away from a crowded field of challengers?

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With four months to go before she faces Chicago voters, Mayor Lori Lightfoot still hasn’t secured an overwhelming financial advantage over rival candidates seeking to make her a one-termer at City Hall.

But with few exceptions, Lightfoot’s declared opponents haven’t been able to bring in big hauls either, leaving the race wide open for financial movement.

The mayor’s main political account, Lightfoot for Chicago, raised about $1 million but spent more than $607,000 in the third quarter, ending it with about $2.9 million on hand, according to new disclosure filings. Her other campaign committee, Light PAC, raised less than $11,000 and spent about $50,000, leaving her with nearly $50,000. She had $3,000 in the bank of the account.

Who’s in, who’s out and who’s thinking about running for Chicago mayor in 2023 ]

Although Lightfoot has more money on hand than all of her opponents except businessman Willie Wilson, she lags far behind the pace Rahm Emanuel set during his 2015 campaign for a second term. At this point in that race, Emanuel had raised $8.6 million and was far beyond his opponents.

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, speaking about access to polling stations on Oct. 6, raised about $1 million for his campaign fund but most of it was a loan he gave himself.

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, speaking about access to polling stations on Oct. 6, raised about $1 million for his campaign fund but most of it was a loan he gave himself. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Wilson reported raising slightly more than $1 million, though almost all of it was a loan from himself. Records show Wilson spent $906,000 and ended the quarter with nearly $4.7 million. in the bank.

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas ended the quarter with the third-most amount of cash on hand with $852,000, according to the quarterly report. He reported taking in $153,370 in the quarter, a paltry sum compared to the $886,000 he amassed in the first quarter. But he has reported more than $700,000 in donations this month, giving him a sizeable financial boost and some momentum as he tries to build support.

Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, in downtown Chicago on May 31, raised the third most in the third quarter.

Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, in downtown Chicago on May 31, raised the third most in the third quarter. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

Vallas has had trouble raising money during his previous bids for public office and finished a distant ninth in the 2019 mayoral race so the money is particularly important for him as he tries to cement himself as a serious candidate.

The next-highest fundraiser was Ald. Sophia King, who raised about $210,000 and spent about $67,000. She had just under $218,000 on hand at the end of the quarter.

Ald. Sophia King speaks with the media following Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's 2023 budget speech to City Council on Oct. 3.

Ald. Sophia King speaks with the media following Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2023 budget speech to City Council on Oct. 3. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez raised $187,000 and spent close to $175,000. He ended the quarter with slightly less than $155,000 in the bank.

Ald. Raymond Lopez announces his run for mayor in a press conference April 6.

Ald. Raymond Lopez announces his run for mayor in a press conference April 6. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

State Rep. Kambium Buckner’s mayoral account, Kam for Chicago Mayor, raised nearly $73,000, but most of that was a $50,000 donation he gave himself through his other committee, Friends of Kam Buckner. He ended the quarter with a little more than $8,000 in the bank, however, as he spent more than $113,000.

Illinois State Rep. Kambium "Kam" Buckner announces his candidacy for Chicago mayor May 12.

Illinois State Rep. Kambium “Kam” Buckner announces his candidacy for Chicago mayor May 12. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Ald. Roderick Sawyer raised $63,500, though $15,000 of that came from his ward organization. Sawyer also spent roughly $44,000 and had about $19,000 on hand.

Activist Ja’Mal Green raised almost $43,000 and spent about $36,000, leaving about $14,000 at the end of the quarter.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer, one of three aldermen seeking to unseat Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is shown on March 30.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer, one of three aldermen seeking to unseat Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is shown on March 30. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

With the exception of Vallas, who has received big donations from a mix of Republican donors and downtown Chicago financiers, candidates are struggling to secure larger-scale contributions. Privately, the campaigns complain that donors are scared to cross Lightfoot, a phenomenon that happened with Emanuel as well.

State records show Wilson paid RRB STRATEGIES, LLC, a company that state records show is managed by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, $10,000. A Wilson campaign spokesman said Blagojevich — who was imprisoned for political corruption and released after former President Donald Trump commuted his sentence — did “some writing and consulting” for Wilson.

Mayoral candidate Ja'Mal Green, speaks to the media outside of City Hall on Sept. 20, is among several challengers to Lightfoot.

Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green, speaks to the media outside of City Hall on Sept. 20, is among several challengers to Lightfoot. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

As Lightfoot campaigns for a second term, she finds herself on the defensive. During her three-plus years in office, Lightfoot has faced spikes in crime, hasn’t run as transparent an administration as promised, and she’s engaged in constant fights with unions representing Chicago teachers and police — all while struggling to forge good relationships with politicians or leaders in the city’s business community.

Though many politicians think she is vulnerable, Lightfoot cannot be dismissed in the Feb. 28 election. She’s earmarked roughly $3 billion in federal funds for city projects and she’s launched a series of programs aimed at reversing one of the biggest criticisms of Emanuel’s tenure — disinvestment in Chicago’s neighborhoods, especially on its South and West sides. Lightfoot also can argue she deserves more time to finish the job after having faced the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and some of the city’s most significant civil unrest since the 1960s.

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October 18, 2022 at 05:16PM

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