Politics & Government

Fundraising totals for Kenny Smith and Joel Ford point to an expensive race for mayor

Charlotte mayoral candidates, clockwise from top left, Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Joel Ford, Kenny Smith and Vi Lyles.
Charlotte mayoral candidates, clockwise from top left, Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Joel Ford, Kenny Smith and Vi Lyles.

Republican Kenny Smith has raised $260,000 so far in his bid for mayor of Charlotte, slightly more than two of the main Democratic candidates.

Democratic Sen. Joel Ford said Monday he raised $205,000 through the end of June. Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles said Saturday that she’s raised $215,000.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts’ campaign declined to release her fundraising total.

The totals reflect fundraising through June 30. The reports aren’t due to be made public until July 21.

The fundraising signals what could be one of Charlotte’s most expensive mayoral races. In 2015, Roberts and three Democratic rivals, along with two Republican candidates, together raised $1.3 million going into the September primary.

Smith said he’ll report $307,000 in cash on hand at the end of June. Unlike the Democrats, he’s not expected to have to spend it in a primary.

“We’re very excited about the state of the race,” Smith said. He added that he’s running on a platform of public safety, jobs, infrastructure and “moving away from inserting every divisive national issue into local government.”

In an email announcing his total, Ford said now that the legislative session is over, he’s ready to spend even more time on his campaign.

“Our contributors reflect the diversity of our city,” he said in the email, “with CEOs from Fortune 500 companies, small-business owners, teachers and retirees contributing to our campaign. Now (that) the State Legislature has adjourned, I can focus my full time and attention to raising the campaign dollars … (to take) our campaign to the voters.”

Ford also has the support of a super-PAC affiliated with the N.C. Association of Realtors and a so-called social welfare group called Queen City Leadership. Unlike the PAC, that group does not have to disclose donors.

Lyles has been endorsed by the Democracy for America PAC.

A similar group, Forward Charlotte, is run by a Republican strategist.

In 2015, Roberts had raised $302,000 over the same period. Incumbent Dan Clodfelter had raised $183,000.

In 2009, Republican John Lassiter had raised $311,000 at the end of June compared to Democrat Anthony Foxx’s $250,000. Foxx went on to defeat Lassiter.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill