- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eight months ahead of primary elections, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser has raised $85,000 as part of early efforts to retain her seat in Ward 4.

Campaign finance filings for the period ending July 31 show fellow incumbent Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, has raised $6,900 so far and at-large member Michael Brown has garnered about $60,000, even though as an independent he skips straight to the November general election ballot and only needs to finish in the top two among at-large candidates.

Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, has served on the council for 20 years and shown he is serious about re-election although he lacks a clear opponent. His campaign reported $143,000 in fundraising - it turned in a hard copy, meaning it was not immediately available online - to complement his campaign keychains and headquarters near Logan Circle in Northwest.

The reports filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance represent the first tangible evidence of candidates’ ability to fundraise ahead of next year’s party primaries, which will be held in April for the first time instead of September.

They show aggressive strides by Ms. Bowser, whose campaign said it was “overwhelmed” by support from volunteers to top $80,000 in donations.

“The number in and of itself is not why we feel encouraged,” Ms. Bowser’s campaign chairman, Darryl Wiggins, said. “It’s because most of that money is grassroots money.”

Indeed, Ms. Bowser’s filing is filled with pages upon pages of individual donors, including donations from former council members Kathy Patterson and Sharon Ambrose for $100 and $51, respectively.

Donations from several construction companies to Ms. Bowser are sprinkled in, but her campaign chairman downplayed any connection to the large parcel of land in Ward 4 that will be freed up by the closing of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Mr. Wiggins argued the disposition of that land is “too far off” to give developers a vested interest in Ms. Bowser’s campaign.

Ms. Bowser’s main opponent in the race, Baruti Jahi, had raised $2,995 and spent about $2,051, leaving $943 on hand. A third candidate for the Ward 4 seat, Judi Jones, has raised $900 and spent $350, according to the reports.

Among the hundreds of contributors documented in the reports, certain newsmakers and persons of influence spread their money around to multiple candidates.

Joe Mamo, whose control over numerous gas stations in the District is threatened by anti-monopoly legislation before the council’s Committee on Government Operations, donated $500 each to Ms. Alexander, Ms. Bowser and Mr. Brown through his company, Dag Petroleum of Springfield.

Mr. Mamo’s other company, Rock Creek Petroleum, threw in an additional $500 to Ms. Bowser, who was recently tapped to head the Government Operations Committee.

Emmanuel Bailey, a Maryland businessman who oversees a joint venture that runs the D.C. Lottery, donated $500 to Ms. Alexander and Ms. Bowser. His company, Veteran Services Corp. (VSC), provided $500 more to each of the women.

Additionally, VSC Chairwoman Barbara Bailey donated $500 to Ms. Bowser, and its executive vice president, Rebecca Mattingly, donated $100 to Ms. Alexander. Both donations were made as individuals and not listed as corporate entities.

Mr. Bailey and his business did not donate in this period to Mr. Brown, the council member who is most closely linked to the D.C. Lottery as the sponsor of controversial online gambling bill that was quietly passed as part of a supplemental budget bill in December.

Mr. Brown’s report showed corporate entities accounted for nearly half, or 52 out of 107, of donations from individuals or organizations.

By comparison, Ms. Bowser chalked up 76 donations under the heading of “business” or “corporation,” yet they only accounted for about a quarter of her donations in the individuals-and-organizations category.

Hakim Sutton, treasurer for Mr. Brown’s campaign, said he does not think there is “any specific reason for that,” noting there does not appear to be any direct correlation between corporate donations to at-large members versus ward members.

About 75 percent of Mr. Brown’s donations were recorded July 12, the day of his campaign kickoff fundraiser at the W Hotel.

Fundraising by Ms. Alexander, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, was split between donations from July 25 and this past Saturday. Her main opposition so far appears to be Ron Moten, the outspoken leader of Peaceholics and ally of former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has indicated his intentions to run.

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