In mayor’s race, out of town cash is king

An unusually crowded race for mayor of Boston is forcing candidates to look outside the city for campaign cash.

An unusually crowded race for mayor of Boston is forcing candidates to look outside the city for campaign cash. Candidates in the wide-open, 12-person mayoral field are tapping into suburban donors at a pace that far exceeds any recent mayoral contest.

Boston’s mayoral hopefuls are raising money at a furious pace. Through mid-July, the last date for which Office of Campaign and Political Finance data were available, the 12-person field had raised just under $3.5 million – four-fifths of what Mayor Tom Menino, Michael Flaherty, and Sam Yoon combined to raise in all of 2009. Fundraising figures for the second half of July have yet to be filed with state campaign finance regulators, but self-reported totals from the campaigns put the race on pace to eclipse previous Boston fundraising benchmarks before September’s preliminary contest.

The deep field, and the heightened competition for campaign funds, have combined to push campaigns to raise money outside Boston to a far greater extent than in previous mayoral contests. A CommonWealth analysis of OCPF data shows that just 39 percent of the $3.5 million that Boston mayoral candidates have raised in 2013 came from Boston donors. The bulk of the rest has flowed into town from the suburbs, while 12 percent is from out of state.

The influx of suburban money represents a sharp break from recent years. More than half of the money Menino, Flaherty, and Yoon raised in their 2009 contest came from Boston donors. Menino raised at least half the money for his 2009 and 2005 reelection campaigns from Boston residents. (Bulk OCPF data isn’t available for earlier campaigns.)

The current race for mayor, however, is pushing the limits of the level of municipal politicking Bostonians are capable of financing. The city has a finite number of politically active residents, and an unusually large number of competitive candidates who are trying to one-up each other by posting eye-popping fundraising totals twice every month. Nine of the 12 candidates on September’s ballot have raised more than $100,000 since January; of those nine, just one, John Barros, has drawn more than half his campaign funds from inside Boston.

The race’s three leading fundraisers – City Councilor John Connolly, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, and Rep. Marty Walsh – have also led the field in tapping suburban campaign funds. To date, each has drawn less than 40 percent of his campaign funds from city residents.

Meet the Author

Paul McMorrow

Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Paul McMorrow

Paul McMorrow comes to CommonWealth from Banker & Tradesman, where he covered commercial real estate and development. He previously worked as a contributing editor to Boston magazine, where he covered local politics in print and online. He got his start at the Weekly Dig, where he worked as a staff writer, and later news and features editor. Paul writes a frequent column about real estate for the Boston Globe’s Op-Ed page, and is a regular contributor to BeerAdvocate magazine. His work has been recognized by the City and Regional Magazine Association, the New England Press Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is a Boston University graduate and a lifelong New Englander.

About Paul McMorrow

Paul McMorrow comes to CommonWealth from Banker & Tradesman, where he covered commercial real estate and development. He previously worked as a contributing editor to Boston magazine, where he covered local politics in print and online. He got his start at the Weekly Dig, where he worked as a staff writer, and later news and features editor. Paul writes a frequent column about real estate for the Boston Globe’s Op-Ed page, and is a regular contributor to BeerAdvocate magazine. His work has been recognized by the City and Regional Magazine Association, the New England Press Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is a Boston University graduate and a lifelong New Englander.

Just 28 percent of Conley’s 2013 fundraising haul has come from Boston residents, the lowest share of any candidate. The West Roxbury resident has collected nearly as much money from Newton residents ($34,700) as he has from his own neighborhood ($35,500). Residents of Andover, Weston, and Wellesley have chipped in more to Conley’s campaign ($30,425) than residents of Charlestown, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester ($26,150) have.

Click here to view an interactive infographic of a full breakdown of mayoral funding.