- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2012

Campaign-finance reports tied to D.C. Council seats up for grabs this year show candidates with widely divergent amounts of cash to play with in the homestretch to the April 3 primary elections.

Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and longest-serving member of the D.C. Council, has $88,000 on hand even though he has no declared opponent, according to his March 10 filing at the Office of Campaign Finance.

By contrast, two Democratic challengers to Ward 7 incumbent Yvette M. Alexander each report less than $10,000 in their coffers.

Candidates whipping up votes in the final three weeks before partisan elections had until midnight on Monday to electronically submit their March 10 reports, offering a trickle of reports throughout the day. Fundraising in this year’s election cycle has been generally favorable to incumbents, who also enjoy the prospect of a split vote among their challengers despite some energetic campaigns.

One of Ms. Alexander’s high-profile opponents, 27-year-old Kevin B. Chavous, has raised more than $38,000 and spent more than $29,000 to date, leaving him with $8,779 on hand, according to his filing.

Mr. Chavous said he is satisfied with the campaign’s coffers entering the homestretch, but “we’re always pushing for more.”

“This is a grass-roots effort,” he added. “Money is not going to win this.”

He paused on Monday to tout a legislative agenda he would introduce in his first three months in office, including a cap on the tax rate seniors receive when they apply for a homestead deduction, a “parent empowerment act” that enables parents to transform low-performing schools, and use of the budget process to ensure services from the Department of Public Works are funded and delivered in Ward 7.

Mr. Chavous said peripheral issues during the campaign — notably, a deferred-prosecution deal on charges he solicited a prostitute near North Capitol Street on Dec. 16, which he says was a misunderstanding that he can explain at a future date — have only slowed fundraising from donors outside the ward.

“We’re showing through our work we have a good chance to win,” he said.

Tom Brown, another Democrat gunning for Ms. Alexander’s seat, reported that he has raised slightly less and spent slightly more than Mr. Chavous, leaving him with only $1,331 on hand.

Among Democratic challengers to Vincent B. Orange’s at-large seat, E. Gail Anderson Holness reported $3,975 raised to date, $3,219 in expenditures and $458 on hand.

In Ward 4, Calvin Gurley raised about $1,650 to date, but has spent nearly all of it. His March 10 filing only lists five small donations from himself.

Mr. Evans has raised a whopping $337,844, spending almost $250,000. With or without his massive war chest, Mr. Evans faces an easy route to re-election after his sole opponent dropped out months ago.

He also picked up an endorsement on Monday from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce for his “proven record of understanding the needs of the District businesses we represent.”

A baker’s dozen candidates vying for former council member Harry Thomas Jr.’s seat in Ward 5 are also disclosing the fruits of their fundraising efforts ahead of a May 15 special election.

Delano Hunter garnered 178 votes in a straw poll Saturday among Ward 5 Democrats, capturing the top spot by a vast margin ahead of Kenyan McDuffie, who notched 79 votes. Frank Wilds collected 44 votes, while Rae Zapata recorded 30 votes and Ron Magnus got 14 votes.

William Boston, Amanda Broadnax, Shelly Gardner, Kathy Henderson and Drew Hubbard each grabbed five or fewer votes, and Ruth Marshall, Bessie M. Newell and Angel Sherri Alston failed to garner any.

Ms. Zapata reported $2,100 in contributions and has not spent any of it.

Ms. Henderson has raised more than $1,700 and spent more than $400, according to her filing.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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