In the first quarter of 2019 — the first financial reporting period since the start of the 2019 mayoral race — challenger Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 out-raised current Mayor Toni Harp by more than four times.
According to the State Elections Enforcement Commissions, candidates are required to report financial statements to the state each quarter. Both Harp and Elicker declared their candidacies within the first quarter of 2019, which began on Jan. 1 and ended on March 31. The deadline to submit the first-quarter report was April 10. On Wednesday, reports filed by the Elicker and Harp camps showed that — since they began their campaigns on Jan. 16 and Feb. 14, respectively — Elicker has raised $117,694 to Harp’s $26,042. Elicker’s campaign will see approximately $48,000 in additional funds because he is participating in the city’s public financing system, the Democracy Fund.
“The fundraising, particularly this early on, will impact us five, six months down the road,” Elicker told the News. “We will have six times the amount of money that [Harp] has, and that’s an indication that people in New Haven are interested in change. It’s pretty unusual for an incumbent not to raise lots of money.”
Harp is seeking a fourth consecutive term as mayor after a decadeslong career representing New Haven — on the city’s Board of Alders and in the state Senate. Elicker first challenged her in 2013 in a crowded Democratic field to succeed then-Mayor John DeStefano. Elicker ultimately fell to Harp in the Democratic primary and then challenged her again in the general. He lost to her by almost 1,800 votes in the November election.
Elicker participated in the New Haven Democracy Fund in his 2013 mayoral bid and has elected to do so again this year. The Democracy Fund is the city’s public financing initiative and has been touted by the campaign as proof of its commitment to grassroots fundraising and donor accountability.
Participation in the Democracy Fund limits each campaign donor to a maximum of $370 in total donations. In exchange, the fund provides grants and matching funds depending on the number of donors and the value of each contribution. Although donations of $100, $250 and the maximum $370 collectively formed a sizable part of Elicker’s intake, the majority of contributions ranged from $10 to $50. In total, the campaign received donations from 727 unique donors.
The funds raised, which more than double Elicker’s first-quarter totals in his first go-around, came mostly from local residents — 70 percent of donations were from New Haven residents. Elicker also received donations from individuals in neighboring Connecticut towns such as Branford, Guilford and Hamden. With matching funds and grants from the Democracy Fund, the campaign projects a first quarter intake of roughly $165,000.
Harp has not participated in the Democracy Fund in the past and has chosen not to do so in her 2019 campaign. She entered the race on Valentine’s Day, telling Democratic lawmakers in a letter released to the public that, “we’ve seen some highs, and we’ve seen lows. But together, we have navigated the troubled waters we had to cross. Because that is love.” Between mid-February and the end of March, she raised $26,042. All but one donation comes from four fundraising events her team has put on.
The bulk of donations to Harp range from $50 to $250, although she has also received a handful of $1000 contributions. Of her donors, many are affiliated with City Hall — 39 donors listed their employers as the City of New Haven.
Harp campaign treasurer Jonathan Peter Wilson and her 2017 mayoral campaign — on which Wilson also served as treasurer — are currently the subject of an open SEEC investigation that began in response to a complaint Elicker filed on March 7. Elicker’s complaint alleged, among other things, that Harp failed to disclose donor names for nearly $100,000 in donations. The complaint noted that Harp submitted mandatory reports late — the last batch were submitted to the city clerk only after a New Haven Register article pointed out the missing filings earlier this year.
Wilson told the News he had no comment about the quarters’ fundraising totals and about what to expect from the campaign in the current and upcoming quarters.
“The contrast between Elicker raising grassroots contributions from New Haven residents versus Harp raising large money contributions from people doing business with the City … is stark,” Gage Frank, Elicker’s campaign manager, said in a Monday press release.
In this first reporting period, both camps filed timely reports and attached full lists accounting for all donors.
Two other candidates for mayor — Wendy Hamilton and Urn Pendragon — are currently self-funding their campaigns and did not raise any money in the quarter.
Harp is New Haven’s 50th mayor.
Angela Xiao | email@example.com .
Correction, April 11: A previous version of this article stated that Elicker lost the general 2013 mayoral election by 10,000 votes. In fact, he lost by 1,800 votes.