Menino’s ailments slow his fundraising
Mayor raised $3,350 in January
A feisty State of the City address notwithstanding, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has yet to declare whether he’ll seek reelection, and a record sixth term, in November. Many political observers in the city expect he will. If he does run, though, Menino won’t just be battling against the host of physical ailments that have recently slowed the legendarily hard-working mayor. He’ll also be chasing reelection from a far weaker financial position than he enjoyed four years ago.
Menino is still recovering physically from a lengthy hospitalization brought on by a blood clot, a respiratory infection, a fractured back, and a diabetes diagnosis. Mobility constraints have forced the mayor to take up residence at the city-owned Parkman House on Beacon Hill, rather than his Hyde Park home. The Globe reported this week that he is still performing twice-daily physical therapy sessions. The health issues have forced him to scale back his tireless work schedule, which normally stretched from dawn until well into the night.
Data from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance show that the mayor’s extended hospitalization and rehabilitation have also severely weakened his muscular political fundraising operation. Menino didn’t deposit a dime into his campaign account during the second half of January. For the whole month, he took in $3,350, less than was raised by City Councilor Charles Yancey.
The mayor’s fundraising efforts have slowed noticeably during his convalescence. He raised roughly $65,000 during the final two months of 2012; that’s a nice sum for most politicians, but it’s nowhere close to the $272,000 haul Menino amassed in the last two months of 2008, when he was gearing up for a reelection campaign against then-City Councilor Michael Flaherty. Politicians normally meet $500 per-person campaign finance donor limits by ramping up fundraising efforts at the end of the calendar year before an election year, and then tapping donors again in the months leading up to Election Day.
What’s more, Menino’s relatively lax fundraising pace extends to a period before the mayor’s bout of ill health. His campaign raised less than $210,000 in the six-month period stretching from August 2012 through January 2013. That’s a 60-percent drop from Menino’s fundraising activity during the same period four years ago, when he raised $538,000. The month of September, which predates the mayor’s recent hospitalization, illustrates the sharp contrast: Menino raised $165,000 in September 2008 versus $25,000 in September 2012.
As Menino’s fundraising operation slackens, he has a thinner cushion to fall back on. The mayor walked into his reelection fight four years ago with $923,000 socked away in such bank savings instruments as certificates of deposit, but closed 2012 with zero in savings. The savings gap means Menino has $640,000 in cash on hand – a tidy sum, but significantly less than the $1.4 million he had at this point four years ago.
The less vigorous fundraising efforts, when combined with the lack of a large well of savings, mean the Menino machine’s financial edge isn’t nearly what it once was. At the end of January 2009, Menino enjoyed an $811,000 fundraising advantage over his challenger, Flaherty. Neither Menino nor his chief critic, City Councilor John Connolly, has announced a mayoral candidacy. Connolly may well sit this race out, but the $325,000 campaign cash disadvantage Connolly currently faces is far smaller than the one Flaherty was staring at. And Connolly has rapidly narrowed the gap in recent months. Over the past six months, the non-candidate Connolly has out-raised the not-yet-declared candidate Menino by $7,000.