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Mayoral primary money pouring in

January 26, 2019

With just over $1.3 million raised so far by Fort Wayne mayoral candidates, this year’s election is shaping up to be the most expensive in Allen County history. 

Documents filed with the Allen County Election Board show the three mayoral candidates : Mayor Tom Henry, City Councilman John Crawford and businessman Tim Smith : had a combined total of 542,207, Crawford raised 335,027. 

Crawford and Smith announced their candidacies early in 2018 and filed the necessary paperwork with the Allen County Election Board on Jan. 9 and 15, respectively. Henry officially launched his campaign Tuesday.

“What you have in John Crawford and Tom Henry are two people who have been around a long time. They know how this works, they know how much it’s taken to win in the past,” Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, said Friday. “Tim Smith is obviously talking to people who have been around and know what it takes to win.”

Downs couldn’t point to a specific race in recent city history with so much money in play. Mayoral races in 1983, 1987 and 1999 would likely be the closest, he said. Although the large amounts of campaign donations this year are unusual, Downs said it could be a boon for voters.

“This is good for voters because it means the candidates are trying to figure out how best to talk to voters or are at least recognizing that in order to win they will have to engage with voters,” Downs said. 

As the May 7 primary draws near, Downs said voters can expect numerous direct mailers, particularly from Crawford and Smith, who will be locked in a race for the Republican nomination.

“Both will spend money on canvassing or time trying to figure out who voters are backing and who they’re not backing,” Downs said. “We’ll also see yard signs and other signage. Beyond that, we can expect to see polling, which is not inexpensive these days, and staffing.” 

All three candidates’ reports show a mix of individual, political and corporate donations.

Although Henry’s reports show a large number of donations from outside Fort Wayne, he still received several large donations from local individuals, organizations and companies. Kelly Automotive, for example, gave Henry 3,500 donation from Sweetwater Sound Founder and CEO Chuck Surack was received in February.

Henry’s reports also show dozens of contributions from local individuals and organizations. 

Crawford has funded a good portion of his campaign so far, with several large loans made to the campaign from his personal funds. Other large donors to Crawford’s mayoral campaign include his son Grant Crawford (5,000), and funeral home director Douglas McComb ($10,000). 

A significant portion of Smith’s fundraising has come from smaller donations of 46,000 in 2018. Smith also gave his campaign 50,000 donation from Daryle and Brenda Doden, parents of former Greater Fort Wayne Inc. CEO Eric Doden. 

There are also examples of donors giving to both sides of the aisle. 

The campaign for Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, a Republican, donated 1,000 to Crawford. Former City Councilman Mark GiaQuinta, a Democrat, also gave 1,000 to Crawford. 

This is not unusual for donors to give to opposing candidates, Downs said, as some people believe it is a way to hedge their bets. 

Campaign finance reports can be found at www.allencounty.us/election-board under the “Campaign Finance” link.

dgong@jg.net

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