Mayoral candidates report first quarter campaign fund hauls
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker leads the pack of mayoral candidates with roughly $200,000 raised.
Karen Lin, Senior Photographer
Combined, New Haven’s four democratic mayoral nominees have raised roughly $400,000 for their campaigns.
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker, former Beaver Hills alder and police sergeant Shafiq Abdussabur and former Hartford Inspector General Liam Brennan raised $102,470.50, $47,200.82 and $31,788.56 respectively. Since each of these candidates have abided by the city’s Democracy Fund’s requirements — to not accept donations over $440 or take PAC money and to raise donations from at least 200 New Haven voters — their donations will be matched in part or in full by the fund.
“Candidates have an incentive to get small donations because they get amplified and doubled,” New Haven Democracy Fund administrator Alyson Heimer told the News. “So this changes who people are willing to talk to and it changes the power of every contributor to make a meaningful impact on the mayor’s race. Candidates are no longer shopping for $1,000 contributors. They’re shopping for local New Haven residents who are registered to vote in order to win over those hearts.”
Former McKinsey consultant Tom Goldenberg has raised $39,562.57 but is not a participant in the Democracy Fund and has thus been able to accept contributions of up to $1000.
Elicker leads the pack amongst Democracy Fund candidates
For every contribution made between $5 to $35, the Democracy Fund doubles the contribution, while donations ranging from $30 to $445 receive a flat $60 matching grant from the fund. The fund will provide matching grants of up to $125,000 total — a threshold that has never been exceeded since its founding in 2007. Once they raise a requisite amount of funding from New Haveners, each candidate also qualifies for a base $23,000 grant.
After including the Democracy Fund’s matching grants, Elicker’s campaign has raised a total of $210,000; this includes $158,000 in individual donations, a $20,000 Democracy Fund base-level grant and $29,000 in matching funds since he declared his run in December 2022.
Elicker has been a proponent of the Democracy Fund since its inception and has participated in the program for all four of his Mayoral campaigns. His predecessors John DeStefano Jr. and Toni Harp also initially supported the Democracy Fund, but later chose not to participate when they faced challengers.
“We’ve proven that a mayoral candidate can work within the clean money limits and raise money to win as a challenger and an incumbent,” Elicker told the News. “Democracy Fund is proof that New Haven is not for sale.”
Contributors to Elicker’s campaign include a range of developers, city employees, Yale New Haven Hospital executives and Yale professors. This list features New Haven Corporation Counsel Patricia King, Yale political science professor Stephen Latham and property developers Yves Joseph, Carter Winstanley and Lynn Fusco.
In total, Elicker’s campaign has received 1000 individual contributions, including 638 from New Haveners.
“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support the campaign has received,” Elicker told the News. “New Haven residents are supporting my campaign so we can continue working toward our shared vision of New Haven’s future by building on the progress we have made in affordable housing, public safety and education.”
Brennan’s campaign has raised $31,000 in donations from 362 unique donors, of whom 226 are New Haveners, with an average contribution of $86.19.
Brennan was the first challenger to meet the requisite number of local donations to qualify for the Democracy Fund and has claimed that reaching the threshold represents support for him in the city.
“Our campaign is proud to be the first challenger to have reached this milestone, and, by doing it in less than three weeks since our launch, we’re especially proud to have reached it faster than even the Mayor’s campaign,” Brennan told the News. “Residents from every part of our great city are joining our campaign, because they believe that we can build a better New Haven together.”
His donors include 26 people who have maxed out the Democracy Fund’s $445 cap, including 22 New Haveners who are largely in government or public service roles. These contributors include New Haven Federation of Teachers president Leslie Blatteau, Fair Haven alder Sarah Miller, SeeClickFix founder Ben Berkowitz, Quinnipiac professor Shawna Reed and federal Department of Energy official Mary Sotos.
Brennan also acknowledged that since he only declared his candidacy six weeks ago, he is at a “deficit” compared to other candidates. However, he vowed to close the gap, arguing that his campaign has raised funds at the fastest pace for a challenger.
“Our support from small dollar donors across the city shows that we are gaining
Momentum,” Brennan told the News. “Everyday residents are calling for change, and I’m the candidate who can push our city forward.”
Abdussabur has raised $47,200 from 420 individuals, of whom 274 are New Haveners, with donors ranging from current and former police officers to members of Abdussabur’s mosque.
Other supporters include regional NAACP president Dori Dumas, Police Commissioner Tracey Meares, State Rep. Gary Winfield, ex-mayor Toni Harp and Alders Sarah Miller and Frank Douglass.
“We’ve already raised the most money besides the incumbent and our donors represent this city,” Abdussabur told the News.
Goldenberg has argued in the past that he did not want to participate in the Democracy Fund, since he believed that it might hamper his ability to successfully challenge Elicker in the race.
Since Goldenberg launched his campaign in the last filing quarter of 2022, his campaign has raised a total of $72,966 from 277 donors. He has received 17 donations of $1000 with fifteen of the seventeen donors living outside of New Haven. 22 of his total donors are individuals who have at some point worked at McKinsey.
New Haven mayors have a two-year term.