RALEIGH — Mayoral candidate Billie Redmond amassed $105,000 in contributions during the most recent fundraising period, relying on her longstanding ties to the city's business community to outraise her two opponents, campaign finance reports show.
City Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane collected $40,000 in contributions and also made a $50,000 loan to her own campaign. McFarlane previously gave her campaign $20,000 in June.
Raleigh physician Randall Williams, a newcomer to city politics, reported $25,000 in contributions.
The winner of the Oct. 11 city election will succeed Mayor Charles Meeker, who will not seek a sixth term. If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff Nov. 8.
About $34,000 of Redmond's campaign money came from real-estate interests, including David Clancy, president of Clancy & Theys Construction Co. ($2,000); Stephen Kenney, president of Kenney Properties ($1,000); and William Edwards, a real estate agent ($1,000).
Redmond, a Republican, is CEO of Coldwell Banker Trademark Commercial Properties headquartered on Wade Avenue.
The contributions drew questions from McFarlane.
"If the majority of her money is coming from the development industry, I would assume they see something in her that's going to benefit them," McFarlane said.
Redmond said her donor base includes retirees, medical professionals, business leaders and attorneys.
"She should wish she had the kind of broad-based support I have across the community," said Redmond, reacting to McFarlane's comments.
Asked about the real estate donations, Redmond said: "That's my industry. Those are the people I know the best and who know me the best. But it's still not the lion's share of my contributions."
Redmond hosted a fundraiser for 75 people Wednesday night at a home in North Ridge that brought in about $20,000 in contributions, said Jim Baldwin, a commercial real estate broker and Redmond's campaign finance director.
Baldwin said he expected the campaign to raise more money from the real estate industry - but the economic downturn has sapped the donor base.
"You've got to remember the Realtors and developers are not making much money right now," he said. "You're not going to get as much as you would if it was good times."
McFarlane, a pharmacy owner, cited the slow economy to explain why she gave $70,000 to her campaign.
"It's a hard thing to ask for money in these economic times," she said. "It's a lot easier to ask myself than somebody else."
Williams, who trails in fundraising, said he would rely on candidate forums and social media to rally support for his campaign.
"Having been involved in the world of nonprofits here in Raleigh and overseas, I would say any trend to raise less money for political races is a good one," Williams said.
"I have always questioned the excessive use of that money as opposed to making donations to organizations like the Red Cross."
In a sluggish economy, the mayoral race appears unlikely to approach the big fundraising totals of previous citywide campaigns.
In 1999, four candidates together spent more than $1 million in their campaigns to succeed Mayor Tom Fetzer.
During Fetzer's six years as mayor, he took City Council fundraising to new levels, consistently raising six figures in his campaigns. In 1997, he amassed almost $500,000, at least some of which was intended for a gubernatorial run he later abandoned.
By comparison, his predecessor Avery Upchurch never raised more than $20,000.
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