With three months until Chicago voters elect a successor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the 17 announced mayoral hopefuls collectively have taken in more than $7.8 million in campaign contributions, with Bill Daley still leading the pack in fund-raising, records show.
That doesn’t come close to matching the $12.8 million that Emanuel has amassed since winning a second term in 2015, only to decide he won’t run again next year.
No one has come close to raising as much as Emanuel has, with more than a week until the deadline to file petitions to get on the Feb. 26 ballot.
Besides Daley, the former Obama White House chief of staff who has reported banking $2.4 million in campaign money, only Gery Chico, the attorney and former City Hall chief of staff who announced he’ll run after Emanuel bowed out, is the only other hopeful to top $1 million.
Daley reported taking in $296,000 this past week — $50,000 came from Paul Meister, Michael Sacks’ right-hand man at Grosvenor Capital Management. Sacks was Emanuel’s biggest donor and trusted adviser. He also pulled in a $75,000 donation from Marian “Cindy” Pritzker, Governor-elect J.B.Pritzker’s aunt, earlier this month.
He’s gotten big contributions including $250,000 from billionaire insurance magnate Patrick Ryan, a longtime ally of former Mayor Richard M. Daley who headed the city’s failed attempt to snag the 2016 Summer Olympics, and $50,000 from former Exelon CEO John Rowe and put $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. Some of his contributors also have given in the past to Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Chico, who was mayoral chief of staff and president of the Chicago Board of Education under Daley, lost the mayor’s race to Emanuel in 2011, when he got $4.25 million in contributions.
He already has a campaign commercial online in which he spotlights his six-year tenure as school board president.
Eleven mayoral contenders have amassed at least $100,000 in contributions.
That doesn’t count Susana Mendoza, who formally announced just Wednesday, forming a new campaign committee for her mayoral bid after winning reelection earlier this month as Illinois state comptroller. But Mendoza’s campaign fund for comptroller has taken in $679,587 since Sept. 4, when Emanuel announced he wouldn’t seek reelection.
Because another mayoral candidate, Willie Wilson, gave his campaign more than $100,000, there is no cap under Illinois law on how much Mendoza can transfer from her state committee to the one she created for the mayoral race. Wilson’s campaign so far is largely self-funded.
Like Mendoza, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle formed a new campaign committee for her mayoral bid. She has raised $475,000.
Preckwinkle, who just won reelection to her county post, had $159,000 in the bank for her county campaign fund at the end of September and got $5,600 in October from Laura Ricketts, who is part of her family’s Cubs ownership team. In September, Preckwinkle’s county campaign committee gave $50,000 to her mayoral committee.
Most of the big names in the mayoral race declared their candidacies after Emanuel bowed out.
Among those who were ready to challenge the incumbent, three — attorney and former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, former police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Paul Vallas, who once was chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools — each has raised more than $700,000.
Lightfoot has raised more than $828,000, even with a lull when, amid talk she might drop out in favor of Preckwinkle, she said she’s staying in the race, accusing Preckwinkle of trying to “bully” her to get out.
Attorney Amara Enyia’s campaign fund got a boost after Chance the Rapper endorsed her. That’s thanks to $200,000 from another rapper, Kanye West.
Former Ald. Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago politics professor who is backing Lightfoot, says he expects people who previously have supported Emanuel will be divided among her, Mendoza, Preckwinkle and Daley.
Simpson figures it will take about $5 million to fund a successful race for mayor. And he says the money that candidates have in hand now could be as important as what they raise later.
“By this time, it ought to be clearly in the multiples of hundreds of thousands,” Simpson says.
If they can’t raise that much, he says, “They probably don’t even have enough support to get the petitions they need. They’re going to start dropping off.”
He doesn’t expect spending for the mayoral race to come close to what Rauner and Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, both billionaires, spent in their heavily self-supported campaigns.
“We’re not gonna have a Rauner and Pritzker,” Simpson says.
Alisa Kaplan, policy director for the nonpartisan organization Reform for Illinois, says the fundraising is “going to really start heating up now.”
“Now that midterms are over, more people will pay attention,” Kaplan says.
Since 2010, Emanuel’s mayoral campaign committee has taken in $48.5 million.
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia raised $7.5 million for his unsuccessful 2015 run against Emanuel, $4.8 million of that after he pushed Emanuel into a runoff. Richard M. Daley, elected mayor six times, would raise about $7 million for his campaigns, Simpson says.