St. Paul mayoral candidates Melvin Carter and Pat Harris have each raised more than $250,000, vastly more than their opponents who filed campaign finance reports Tuesday.
The latest reports show mayoral race competitors Tom Goldstein and Elizabeth Dickinson trailed far behind the top two earners with eight weeks until Election Day. Dai Thao, a City Council member running for mayor, did not provide a copy of his finance report Tuesday.
Other candidates, most of whom recently joined the race, reported no donations or had not yet submitted reports.
The November election will be St. Paul’s first mayoral contest under the ranked-choice voting system without an incumbent. Eleven candidates have filed to replace Mayor Chris Coleman, who is leaving after 12 years.
It remains to be seen whether fundraising will be a decisive factor under the new voting system, where voters’ second and third-choice candidates help decide the winner. But reports show Harris and Carter have the most to spend as they attempt to sway voters. Harris has $119,297 cash on hand; Carter has $52,643.
Carter, a former City Council member, got a head start on fundraising. He formed a campaign committee in December 2015, about a year before any other candidate. He started 2017 with significantly more than anyone else and as of last week had raised $264,643.
“Our goal was to start early really investing in a grass roots organization that touched every neighborhood,” he said on Tuesday.
But Harris has surpassed Carter’s fundraising in 2017. Harris, another former City Council member and a senior vice president at BMO Harris Bank, has secured $287,608 since he launched his campaign in December 2016.
Many of his donations came from business and restaurant owners, with whom he has connected through his involvement in a variety of local organizations and through the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s political action committee endorsed Harris.
“I’m proud of the support we get from the business community, because they know that we’re going to move St. Paul forward on jobs,” he said.
The St. Paul police union has also endorsed Harris, and many officers were listed as donors.
Carter also has a wide variety of supporters listed in this report, including many state government employees and people who work in education. He is executive director of Gov. Mark Dayton’s Children’s Cabinet, though he took a leave of absence starting this summer to work on the campaign.
A Thao campaign volunteer said they were wrapping up their latest campaign finance report Tuesday evening. His previous report, from the end of January, showed he raised $28,945 during his first month on the campaign trail. Thao got the second most support at the city’s DFL convention this summer, behind Carter and ahead of Harris.
Dickinson, a Green Party candidate, has raised $12,814 since she entered the race in February. She has received more small donations than most candidates, with about 14 percent of her contributions less than $50.
Former St. Paul school board member Goldstein reported $19,954 in contributions, about half of which he loaned to his campaign.