August 21, 2014 at 9:23 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay candidates trailing rivals in money raised for Nov. election
David Catania, candidates, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayoral candidate David Catania this week won the endorsement of the city’s police union. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Seven of the eight out gay or lesbian candidates running for various positions in the city’s Nov. 4 general election are trailing their opponents in the amount of money they have raised to support their campaigns.

According to the latest round of candidate reports filed on Aug. 10 with the city’s Office of Campaign Finance, D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), who’s gay, is trailing Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) by nearly $2 million in money raised in the race for mayor.

The reports show that Bowser, the Democratic Party nominee, has raised more than $2.7 million since she began her campaign last year and had more than $1 million in cash on hand. Catania has raised just under $775,000 since entering the mayoral race earlier this year and had just under $464,000 in cash on hand, according to his finance report.

Former Council member Carol Schwartz, who’s also running for mayor as an independent candidate, has raised $65,623 as of Aug. 10 and had $50,375 in cash on hand as of that date. Schwartz’s report shows that $33,000 of the total amount she raised came from a personal loan she made to the campaign.

Gay mayoral candidate Bruce Majors, who’s running under the banner of the Libertarian Party, has so far raised $6,549 for his campaign and had $128 in cash on hand as of Aug. 10, as shown in his finance report.

Most political observers view Catania’s fundraising effort so far as a respectable showing in a city where Democrats make up the overwhelming majority of registered voters and where no non-Democrat has ever won election as mayor.

Catania’s campaign received a boost on Wednesday when the city’s police union announced it has endorsed him over Bowser and Schwartz.

In other city races, lesbian public relations executive Courtney Snowden came in second place in the fundraising department for the hotly contested 15-candidate race for two at-large D.C. Council seats up for grabs in November. Snowden is running as one of 11 independent candidates in the race in which a Democrat is only eligible for one of the two seats.

In the contest for the newly created elective position of D.C. Attorney General, lesbian attorney and former Gertrude Stein Democratic Club President Lateefah Williams appears to have finished last in fundraising in a five-candidate race, with $9,685 raised and just over $9,000 in cash on hand. Her opponents have raised between $45,000 and over $200,000, with some of them kicking in large sums of their own money they earned as attorneys for big name law firms.

“I see a pathway for overcoming the money advantage that several of my opponents currently hold,” Williams told the Blade. “During the petition signature phase of the campaign, I was not able to focus on fundraising to the extent that I would have liked,” she said. “Moving forward, I will be working with my fundraising team on a daily basis.”

Ward 1 school board candidate Scott Simpson, one of two gay men running in a five-candidate race, is leading the pack in money raised. His finance report shows he raised $22,493, with close to $20,000 in cash on hand. Rival gay candidate David Do has raised $11,420 and has $5,000 in cash on hand.

A campaign finance report for gay Libertarian candidate Martin Moulton, who’s running for the city’s non-voting “shadow” U.S. House seat, couldn’t immediately be found on the Office of Campaign Finance’s website.

In the at-large Council race, incumbent Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, is considered the odds on favorite to win re-election to the so-called “Democratic” seat.

Campaign finance records show Snowden has raised $87,123 since the start of her campaign and had $81,123 in cash on hand as of Aug. 10. Her lead rival, restaurant owner and progressive activist Khalid Pitts, who’s also an independent, has raised $115,873 since the start of his campaign and had $98,052 in cash on hand as of Aug. 10.

However, the campaign finance reports show that the total amount raised by both Pitts and Snowden include a $15,000 loan by Pitts to his campaign and an $11,000 loan by Snowden to her campaign.

Gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Marc Morgan, who’s running for the at-large seat as the Republican nominee, raised $18,516 and had $726 in cash, his finance report shows.

Several of the other independent candidates running for the at-large seat raised between $10,000 and over $50,000 since starting their campaigns. Among them former City Paper news reporter and civic activist Elissa Silverman, who came in third with $56,324 raised and $20,221 in cash on hand.

Silverman drew support from many of the city’s prominent LGBT activists when she ran for the same seat two years ago. But this time, Snowden’s finance report shows that many well-known local and national LGBT leaders gave money to her campaign, with no recognizable LGBT big-wigs giving money to Silverman.

Among those contributing to Snowden’s campaign were Rea Carey and Darlene Nipper, executive director and deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Paul Smith, the gay rights attorney who argued the 2003 Supreme Court case that overturned state sodomy laws; businesswoman and prominent Democratic Party activist Hilary Rosen; Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund Vice President Denis Dison (the Victory Fund endorsed Snowden); and former assistant U.S. Attorney General and public affairs and lobbying firm owner Robert Raben.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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