This year’s Salt Lake City mayor’s race is well on its way to becoming the costliest in the city’s history.
The latest reports show that the major four candidates have raised this year a total of $475,000.
If you add in current Mayor Jackie Biskupski – who shocked the city’s political establishment by taking herself out of the race last week – the total raised is more than $535,000 this year.
And it is only March – with the candidate filing deadline not until June and the primary in August. The final election is in November. So there are still six months left in campaigning – fundraising and spending.
And now two new candidates – state Sen. Luz Escamilla and City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall -- are in the mayor’s race – just recently announced – and they don’t file campaign reports for several weeks.
Here are the main financial mayoral successes so far:
= Local businessman David Ibarra has raised $234,931 as of his last February report.
He has spent so far an astounding $129,922 – what some whole mayoral campaigns cost in total just a few years ago.
And he has $105,008 in cash left in his account.
Ibarra has given his campaign $50,000 of his own money.
= Former Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis has raised $100,838.
More than half of that is his own money -- $58,000.
Dabakis, a millionaire like Ibarra, has spent $904 and has $99,933 in cash.
= David Garbett, whose family owns Garbett Homes, has raised $111,131 so far, spent $7,440 and has $103,690 in cash.
Between himself and various Garbett family members, David has collected around $21,000.
So, three of the candidates have around $100,000 in cash on hand as April begins.
Former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold has raised $26,454, has spent $7,500 and has $19,000 in cash on hand.
While Biskupski is no longer in the race, before jumping out of the contest she had raised $63,350 this year, spent $8,444 and has $128,724 in cash on hand.
Unlike the state of Utah, which has no campaign donation limits for candidates, Salt Lake City does have limits on how much a person or business entity can give a candidate.
But, following U.S. Supreme Court rulings, there can be no limits on how much a person can donate to his own campaign – for that is seen as a freedom of speech issue.
Thus, Biskupski, who has not endorsed any of the other candidates, can only give a relatively small amount to any mayoral candidate out of her campaign war chest.
Here are some interesting tidbits of some of the candidates’ fund raising:
= Ibarra has had a successful business consulting career, which includes work for car dealerships.
A number of local dealerships have donated the current maximum allowed – around $3,500.
This includes $14,000 in total from various Murdock dealerships.
Ibarra also has a $3,500 donation from former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, a similar donation from former mayoral candidate Mike Zuhl.
= Gail Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz and many Miller car dealerships, gave Garbett $3,500.
As one would imagine, having already spent $130,000, Ibarra has made some big campaign expenditures.
= He has spent $56,000 on “digital” ads and canvassing. Many Salt Lake neighborhoods have already seen Ibarra campaign workers going door to door passing out literature and offering to set up meetings where voters can meet Ibarra personally.
= Ibarra has spent $10,000 on filming – likely TV and/or radio ads, which have yet to run.
= He has also spent $9,000 on consulting with the Exoro Group. (Note: UtahPolicy.com publisher LaVarr Webb helped found Exoro some years ago, but Webb retired from the campaign/public relations firm several years ago.)
If the fundraising/spending continues along the current path, this year’s mayor’s race in total will see several millions of dollars spent – all for around 30,000 total votes in the primary, maybe 5,000 to 10,000 more votes than that in the final election.