Davis outraises Ashe-Nadrowski and Brown, ELEC reports show

PACs and Super PACs have been throwing their weight around in the mayoral race too

Mayor James Davis has out fund-raised his mayoral opponents by a wide margin so far, including City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski and doctor and lawyer Mitchell Brown. However, spending and contributions are likely to increase as the May 10 municipal election comes closer.

According to a 29-day pre-election filing on April 8 with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), Davis had $36,268.88 in cash on hand. This is the first report since January, and gives an idea of the financial state of the race in the sunset hours of each campaign.

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The report states that Davis has raised $483,112 to date, with $4,500 most recently added in monetary contributions in the April report.

Incumbent Davis boasts massive campaign

An earlier ELEC report from January indicates Davis had about $145,370 in cash on hand. Since then, he has spent most of that, with only $36,268 cash on hand per the April report.

Since then, the race has heated up further with additional television, online, newspaper, and other ads, so more of that has been spent. Simultaneously, Davis has been holding regular fundraisers, so he is probably bringing in more donations.

The report shows the donations which make up a recent $4,500 in contributions, including $2,500 from The International Longshoremens Association and $300 from City Planner Suzanne Mack. Also included in the $4,500 are donations less than $300, totaling $1,200.

Of the total contributions accumulated to date by Davis totaling $483,112, most of the contributions are larger than $300, totaling $336,584, and donations under $300 total $147,427. There have been $900 in campaign contribution refunds.

Key Davis donors consist of labor unions, city employees, and redevelopers, among private citizens. Unions who donated to Davis include the The International Longshoremen’s Association of which Bayonne Assemblyman William Sampson belongs, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, The United Association of Plumbers Local 24, among a number others.

Who’s backing Davis?

City employees backing Davis with campaign contributions in 2022 include Law Director Jay Coffey, Chief Financial Officer Donna Mauer, Health Department Nurse Suzanne Cavanaugh, the aforementioned Mack, and former Municipal Services Director Tim Boyle, among others. A number of redevelopers have also donated to Davis, including Wasseem Boraie of Boraie Development, Joel Bergstein of Lincoln Equities Group, Francesco Alessi of the Alessi Organization, and Ehab “Jimmy” Gamal of the Gamal Group.

Elected officials from Bayonne backing Davis with donations include County Executive Tom DeGise, County Commissioner Kenneth Kopacz, Hudson County Sherriff Frank Schillari, and Board of Education Trustee Pam Sclafene, to name a few. Additionally, other notable campaign donations include CEO of BMC Hospital, LLC Wayne Hatami, Joe Bolowski of A & L Disposal, LLC, and former Special Redevelopment Counsel and now involved in the Ashe-Nadrowski campaign Joe DeMarco from back in April of 2021. 

According to the ELEC report, Davis has spent $464,651, with $113,651 spent since January according to the April report. Notable expenditures in the report include $25,027 for various forms of campaign signage from Vital Signs based in Bayonne; $11,700 for research and polling by Change Research in Berkley, California; $13,030 for the rental of the campaign headquarters, and $7,500 for Vision Media Marketing consulting services.

The campaign has also made a number of charitable donations since January, totaling $12,075. A portion of that is the $3,500 that Davis previously received from Suez that he donated to the Windmill Alliance as promised, following a back and forth with Jodi Casais, a City Council At-Large candidate on Ashe-Nadrowski’s ticket and Bayonne Board of Education Trustee.

Ashe-Nadrowski speaks to those who came out for a dinner with local senior citizens. Photo courtesy of Ashe-Nadrowski campaign.

Ashe-Nadrowski competes with modest campaign

At the first mayoral debate, Ashe-Nadrowski described her campaign as a “homegrown, small donor campaign.”

According to her 29-day pre-election filing with ELEC on April 19, she has raised a total of $63,304. She has spent $59,045 since her last filing in January, leaving her currently with $4,259 in the bank.

A number of Ashe-Nadrowski’s donations are less than one hundred dollars, according to the April ELEC report, but there are also a number of big donors as well. Of contributions to her campaign, those over $300 total $44,225 and those under $300 total $19,079.

With fewer donors than Davis, Ashe-Nadrowski does have the financial backing of a few key figures. Main Ashe-Nadrowski donors are Chiaravalloti for Assembly with a $5,000 contribution, Sal Gullace for Second Ward with $3,000, Melissa Mathews with $2,500, the Together We Can 2021 account which her ticket-mates Bayonne Board of Education President Maria Valado and Casais ran on, which contributed $1,388, and Board of Education President Christopher Munoz who donated $100, with many others listed in the report.

Her expenditures for her campaign’s operating disbursement total $59,045. According to the ELEC report, main expenses include: $25,261 to Kennedy Communications in Laurel, Maryland for general mailers, ward-specific mailers, and walk cards; rent for her campaign headquarters, totaling $9,500 so far with $1,900 each month; $7,849 to Activate Media for political consulting; $2,500 to LB Strategy, LLC of Rockaway for political consulting in February and March; and $1,600 to NGP VAN Inc. out of Washington D.C. for research and polling, and other expenses.

Brown has filed the necessary documents to run, but has just started fundraising as of April 21 and did not have any contributions or expenditures registered with ELEC in his April 4 filing. At the debate, Brown said he running a “shoestring, dental floss” campaign.

PACs and Super PACs heavily involved in race

In addition to campaign contributions, political action committees (PACs) and Super PACs have also been a point of contention in the Bayonne mayoral race.

It started last year with a Super PAC based out of Washington D.C., the Citizens for Strength and Security Fund. That PAC started the “Dirty Davis” attack ad campaign toward the end of 2021, but activity died out into 2022. There are no filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or ELEC.

Then, the Government for the People Super PAC made headlines after a political consultant it had paid pleaded guilty to a murder-for-hire plot. Sean Caddle was paid $2,500 in December of 2021, just one month after he pleaded guilty for his role in the death of Michael Galdieri, as reported earlier this month by The Record. His plea was made public in January of this year, but only recently was it made clear he pleaded guilty in November. As that all unfolded, it was revealed the PAC was created by former state Senator Ray Lesniak to support Davis for a third term and had also received contributions from donors to Davis’ campaign Wasseem Boraie and Eric Bergstol.

Subsequently, another entity entered the fray, the Committee to Advance New Jersey. Technically not a PAC but a non-profit, it has since sent out multiple mailers supporting Ashe-Nadrowski.

The most recent PAC that has been noticed to have been throwing its weight around in the race is the Fund for Quality Leadership. The PAC, which held a fundraiser in Bayonne earlier in the year when Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop endorsed Davis, has also sent out mailers touting Davis. ELEC reports show this is funded by the Jersey City Democratic Committee and Team Fulop 2021.

Meanwhile, Brown has not been involved in the crossfire over PACs and campaign distributions, largely because of the relatively late launch of his platform and late timing of his first fundraiser. Regardless, the race to May 10 is on, and each campaign is putting the pedal to the metal as the finish line approaches.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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