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Louisville mayoral candidates open their wallets ahead of primaries

With less than a month to go before the May 17 primary election, more of Louisville’s mayoral hopefuls are spending money than ever.

The latest campaign finance reports, which cover transactions from the first quarter of the year, showed two candidates continuing their fundraising lead: Democrat Craig Greenberg and Republican Bill Dieruf. All reports are filed with the  Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Greenberg, the former CEO of 21c Museum Hotels, started 2022 with about $800,000 in the bank. Since then, he raised another $266,000 from more than 500 donors and spent $375,000. That brings Greenberg’s total spending to $648,000. Greenberg released a video ad in early April, and expenditure reports show his campaign paid the political advertising firm GMMB, Inc. more than $80,000 the next week . 

Dieruf, meanwhile, raised more than $350,000 since last June, far more than any other Republican candidate. The term-limited mayor of Jeffersontown received $55,000 from more than 150 donors since January, including a $1,000 boost from Maker’s Mark President Bill Samuels Jr.

Other Republican candidates have also been spending money ahead of the primary election. Former professional basketball player Chartrael Hall raised roughly $9,500 since January. He spent $7,600 during that time frame, with the largest expenditure being his campaign kickoff event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. 

Minister Philip Molestina came into 2022 with $12,000 banked, including a $10,000 loan he gave his campaign. He’s since received $2,700 in donations and spent $1,400, primarily on printing, building his campaign website and business cards.

Rob Stark Reishman has not received a single donation. He told WFPL News in a recent interview that it’s an intentional choice.

“I don't want a corporate-loaded donation pool of out-of-state money that doesn't help Louisville,” Reishman said. “What I'm saying to people who want to donate is go donate your time to local charities, go donate your money. Pick up a piece of trash. Say 'hi' to a stranger. Help a stranger in need.”

Democrats spending big

Democratic candidates for Louisville mayor have far outspent Republican candidates since January.

David Nicholson, currently the Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk, raised more than $160,000 from 432 donations since January. He also spent $467,000 in the first quarter, mostly on television and radio ad buys. While Nicholson has been one of the most prolific fundraisers on the Democratic side — second only to Greenberg — he had about $18,000 on hand as of this week. 

Pastor and activist Timothy Findley Jr. started the year with just $6,900 in the bank, having previously raised $36,000. His campaign has continued to spend since January, raising $9,200 while expending $8,700 on events, yard signs and campaign office rent.

Food industry worker Colin Hardin raised $1,400 from a handful of donors and spent $1,100 since January. And Skylar Graudick, a former Louisville police officer, received $3,500 from 11 donors. Graudick has spent less than $2,000 since announcing his campaign.

Democrats Anthony Oxendine, owner of Spring Valley Funeral Home, and activist Shameka Parrish-Wright did not claim any donations for the most recent reporting period. Oxendine has told WFPL News that he is not accepting donations. Parrish-Wright, meanwhile, had raised roughly $15,000 at the beginning of the year.

Both Republicans and Democrats will elect a party nominee for mayor on May 17. With Mayor Greg Fischer term-limited, it will be the first time in more than a decade that his name will not appear on the ballot.

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

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