‘Is she viable?’ Mayoral candidate María Quiñones Sánchez says her campaign has a bite
Quiñones Sánchez starts the year with half a million in her campaign coffer.
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Perched in her Sansom Street campaign headquarters, Philadelphia candidate for Mayor Maria Quiñones Sánchez celebrated a financial benchmark as she begins 2023 with $508,000 on hand.
Quiñones Sánchez raised a total of $548,000 in 2022, according to a campaign spokesperson, and starts the new year with a sizable portion of that amount to kick off a crowded mayoral race, with nine Democrats vying for the city’s top leadership post.
When the Philadelphia Inquirer reported how far ahead candidates were, Quiñones Sánchez had been one of two candidates — along with Judge James DeLeon — who had not disclosed their fundraising amounts.
“One of the criticisms that I have received over the years is that I did not spend time raising money and harnessing my fundraising muscles,” Quiñones Sánchez said.
A source close to the campaign said that questions over Quiñones Sánchez’s ability to finance a mayoral run loomed over the headquarters, but that the fundraising figure dispelled the question of viability.
“I think we always knew we have the capacity to do it,” said Quiñones Sánchez, and attributed her economic position to the challenges in her district, which she said was at the forefront of her priorities ahead of her resignation.
“You know, if you had asked my team, I should have left [City Council] earlier. I was scheduled to leave in June, the issue of the special election delayed me to September, so not being a full-time candidate did hurt our ability to be focused on fundraising,” she explained.
Setting the scene
All mayoral candidates are required to file detailed campaign finance reports by the end of January, per campaign finance law.
Currently, with preliminary information at hand, Quiñones Sánchez lags behind candidates Helen Gym and Rebecca Rhynhart, both of whom begin the season with over a million dollars in their campaign coffers.
Former at-Large councilwoman Helen Gym had been the first of the candidates to boast her campaign funding efforts and said the campaign had entered 2023 with the “strongest possible position.”
Grocer magnate Jeff Brown, initially, was above the million-dollar threshold but was left with less than half a million after spending a chunk of his budget on TV advertisements, according to reporting by the Inquirer.
Former at-Large councilman Allan Domb leads the pack below the million-dollar fold with $729,000 available.
Cherelle Parker, former city councilwoman and ex-Majority Leader in council said she had closed the year with $460,000, but did not say how much the campaign had raised in total.
Attorney and former Councilmember Derek Green is just behind Parker, with $450,000 to kick off 2023. A spokesperson for the campaign told the Inquirer he had raised $500,000.
The millionaire’s amendment played a significant role in Quiñones Sánchez’s ability to fundraise quickly following her resignation.
Until a candidate gives their campaign $250,000, Philly campaign fundraising rules limit individual contributions to $3,100 and political committees to $12,500.
Once a candidate triggers the amendment, that amount increases to $6,200 and $25,200, respectively.
Rumored to lead the financial pack with their heavyweight resumes were Brown and Domb, a who leveraged their positions until the tail end of December.
On Dec. 30, at 12 a.m., Domb informed the Board of Ethics that he had given his campaign $250,000. Up until that point, Brown had given his campaign $240,000, sitting just beneath the threshold that would increase outside contributions.
A source said they considered the timing to be strategic in limiting other candidates’ ability to usher in eager donors.
But despite the initial roadblocks, Quiñones Sánchez maintains she worked with individual donors throughout the end of the year to max out contributions, “and we got our supporters to come in and give [a donation] that they haven't historically given.”
“We have always been prepared to work harder at getting there. But it has been frustrating to hear people say, ‘I'll give you money when you show me you can raise money,’” she added.
Responding to what direction the campaign would go in light of exceeding their fundraising goal, Quiñones Sánchez said she would run “the most effective, targeted campaign” and look to echo her voting record within her district in a city-wide effort.