Harp widens fundraising lead

One week before the election, mayoral campaign coffers revealed on Tuesday show democratic-endorsed candidate Toni Harp ARC ’78 with a handy fundraising lead over her opponent, Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10.

Harp raised $104,835 in the final fundraising period of the campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday afternoon. That is more than triple the funds won by Elicker in the same three-week window between Oct. 4 and Oct. 27. Bound by public campaign finance rules that limit individual contributions to $370 and prohibit special interest and PAC money, Elicker raked in $33,441.

Harp has now surpassed half a million dollars in total donations, raising a total of $503,496 since entering the race in April. Elicker came a few hundred thousand dollars short of that figure, raising an aggregate $308,481 over the course of the campaign.

In addition to outraising her opponent, Harp has also outspent him. Harp’s filings report a current campaign balance of $8,324, while Elicker has $24,000 on hand, revealing divergent expenditure levels in the weeks leading up to the election.

“We raised what we needed to raise, and we’ll keep raising money up until Election Day,” Jason Barlett, Harp’s campaign manager, said. He added that fundraising drives over the past few days have continued to replenish funds, and said he was confident the campaign would have enough cash on hand to deliver a victory at the polls.

Elicker emphasized that his campaign continues to be funded from within New Haven, saying that 86 percent of his contributions were from city residents. He contrasted that figure to Harp’s base of financial support, which he said came from individuals and groups from out of town expecting political favors in return for their donations.

Elicker said his campaign is on more secure financial footing than Harp’s. His careful management of expenditures, he added, proves he would be a more fiscally prudent mayor.

“I think it’s incredibly important for a candidate to run a campaign similarly to how they would run the city, and so we have worked very hard to make sure that we never went into the red,” he said. At the beginning of the month, Harp’s campaign was running a negative balance, a fact Harp dismissed at a debate last week by saying the alleged deficit was insignificant given that campaign had not yet concluded.

In the past three weeks, Harp received $92,465 from individuals and $12,120 from political action committees, including strong financial support from local labor unions backing the democratically endorsed candidate. Local 34, the New Haven Central Labor Council and AFSCME 269 each contributed $1,500.

Elicker’s donations came from individuals concentrated within New Haven in addition to a small smattering of donors from the suburbs. The average donation to his campaign was roughly $114. Top donors giving the maximum $370 included Yale professors Jacob Hacker GRD ’00, Paul Bloom and Justin Neuman, as well as Yale School of Medicine professor Katherine McKenzie.

Elicker criticized Harp for taking PAC money and assembling an economic development campaign team that includes “people who have been involved in scandals in New Haven.”

His criticism refers to campaign support Harp has drawn from two figures under scrutiny in the 1990s for allegedly corrupt dealings in city hall. Anthony Avallone, a former Connecticut state senator and city development commissioner, resigned in 1992 after he was implicated in multiple zoning and tax-relief scandals. Sal Brancati, a former development chief under outgoing New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., left city hall around the turn of the century amid corruption scandals involving officials taking advantage of public posts to enhance their personal wealth.

Bartlett dismissed the criticisms, saying Harp’s breadth of fundraising support is proof of her accomplishments across the city and the state.

“As much as our opponent likes to tout his New Haven fundraising, it comes primarily from one neighborhood,” Bartlett said, referring to East Rock, which Elicker represents along with the Cedar Hill neighborhood on the board of aldermen. “We have campaign support from all neighborhoods and from across the state, and we have strong labor support.”

Harp’s individual contributions are capped at $1,000.

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