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Some Louisville mayoral candidates are banking donations ahead of primaries

Louisville Metro Hall on January 22, 2019.
Louisville Metro Hall on January 22, 2019.

Candidates for Louisville mayor have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars ahead of the May primary. 

Democratic candidate Craig Greenberg, the former CEO of 21c Museum Hotels, continues to lead the pack in fundraising with more than $1.1 million in donations so far. He received $300,000 of that since early October 2021. Greenberg has reported roughly $125,000 worth of expenditures since announcing his campaign in April, and he still has $800,000 in the bank. 

The only other mayoral candidate to come close to Greenberg’s numbers is Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson, who’s raised $420,000. He’s spent $100,000 so far. All fundraising totals come from the most recent filings with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF).

Greenberg said in a statement that he believes the $1.1 million he’s raised from nearly 1,500 donors puts his campaign in a strong position less than five months out from primary election day.

“I continue to be humbled by the outpouring of support for our campaign,” Greenberg said. “We still have a long way to go but, this year, we’ll make it happen together.”

Greenberg also touted his support from local unions, as well as high-profile endorsements from local leaders like Metro Council President David James and former Louisville state Representative Larry Clark. 

While a raising over a million dollars may look like a lot to most Louisville families and voters, it’s not atypical for mayoral hopefuls in Kentucky’s largest city. In 2018, incumbent Mayor Greg Fischer raised more than $1.6 million for his reelection bid, according to reports filed with KREF. In his first campaign for mayor in 2010, Fischer received just over $1 million in donations ahead of the primary. 

The Democratic field has grown increasingly crowded as the term-limited Fischer prepares to leave office. It will be the first time in more than a decade that his name won’t appear on the ballot.

The latest campaign finance numbers show activist and Democrat Shameka Parrish-Wright has raised roughly $37,000 since the start of her campaign, but has just $3,000 left in the bank. Parrish-Wright, who was aleader in last year’s racial justice protests in Louisville, has repeatedly brushed aside the notion that fundraising numbers are a good predictor of support.

She told WFPL News in October that she was not worried about Greenberg’s significant lead over other Democratic candidates.

“I’m not trying to be the mayor of fundraising,” she said. “Millionaires, their friends and high-dollar campaigns lose elections every term, as those dollars don’t necessarily translate to votes. I’m running to win for the 90% that don’t have it all or the connections.”

Fellow activist and Democratic candidate Rev. Timothy Findley, Jr. reported $36,000 in donations so far, but he’s already spent $29,000. Funeral home director Anthony Oxendine,the most recent resident to jump into the mayor's race, has not filed any fundraising reports with KREF.

On the Republican side, current Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf has raised nearly $300,000 for his campaign. That’s significantly more than his sole opponent, minister Phillip Molestina, who has fundraised just $11,250 including a $10,000 loan from himself. Molestina has not reported any new donations to the state since early October. 

The mayoral primaries will be held on May 17.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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