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Glance through Gordon-Andrew Fletcher’s latest campaign finance reports and one address pops up more than any other: 3005 Bladensburg Road NE.
But people sharing that address didn’t chip in cash to Fletcher’s campaign for the Ward 5 D.C. Council seat just a handful of times. In all, the advisory neighborhood commissioner reported 49 different contributions coming from that address between Dec. 11 and Jan. 31.
Add in another four donations from folks living next door at 3001 Bladensburg and 53 of Fletcher’s 133 donors for that period came from these two buildings. And each and every one of those contributors lists the same occupation: retired.
Consider that the property is listed as “Fort Lincoln Senior Citizen’s Village No. 2” on most major apartment rental websites, and a pretty clear picture starts to emerge—Fletcher passed the hat around the local senior building as he sought to keep his Council bid going.
The contributions hardly amount to big money, totaling just $1,060, with some donations as small as $2 each, but they’re extra meaningful because they all come from D.C. residents. Fletcher is using public financing, meaning each dollar he raises from within the District is matched five times over down the line.
Fletcher tells Loose Lips that the contributions are evidence of his strong support among longtime Ward 5 residents, showing that they appreciate his history of “serving those within the Fort Lincoln community for so many years.” But it also demonstrates the lengths Fletcher needs to go to if he hopes to keep up with the other contenders in perhaps the most hotly contested Democratic primary in the District. Faith Gibson Hubbard, Vincent Orange and Zachary Parker are the other leading contenders for the seat, now that Harry Thomas Jr. has dropped his bid.
“I don’t have all the money in the world, but we’re strong,” Fletcher says. “We’ve got enough money to take our message far and wide … but we still consider ourselves to be the underdogs.”
Fletcher, a three-term commissioner for ANC 5A08 and the chair of the Ward 5 Democrats, certainly has some money in the bank—he reported about $23,600 in cash on hand as of Jan. 31. But that lags far behind his rivals.
Hubbard, formerly the head of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Community Affairs, leads the pack in that department with nearly $110,300 socked away. Parker, the Ward 5 rep for the State Board of Education and the favorite of D.C.’s progressive wing, is close behind with about $94,800 on hand.
Orange, formerly a Ward 5 and at-large councilmember, was a bit further behind at about $58,500. All of those four candidates, however, have secured enough donations to qualify for matching funds through the public financing program, and all four of the top contenders reported earning five-figure payouts last month. That should give them some security about cash flow moving forward.
Still, those payments only reflect how much cash the candidates raised from District residents in the last fundraising period (from Nov. 1 through Dec. 10). Their fundraising totals for the past month offer a preview of how much they can expect to get this spring, as they race to collect signatures and make the primary ballot—and they show some hints as to which candidates have managed to build a little steam.
Parker led the way in total contributions for the fundraising period, notching $10,038 in all via 270 contributors. His donor list included a variety of progressive advocates and a few other notable names like Sylvia Pinkney of ANC 5E04, Renee Bowser of ANC 4D02 and Wanda Lockridge, chief of staff for Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White.
Hubbard wasn’t too far behind him, with $8,553 and and a combined 198 donors. Her time in the Bowser administration plainly earned her lots of friends close to the mayor—contributors included DC Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Parker and Unique Morris-Hughes, head of the Department of Employment Services. Monica Palacio, formerly the head of the Office of Human Rights, and Rob Hawkins, once Bowser’s deputy chief of staff and now an influential lobbyist at Nelson Mullins, also contributed.
In all, 135 of Hubbard’s donors have also given to Bowser, per D.C. Geekery, representing 19.4 percent of all her contributors. That’s the largest overlap with the mayor of any of the four candidates, suggesting that it’s no mystery who the Green Team favors in this race.
Fletcher only managed to raise $3,805 for the fundraising period (including the money from his elderly contributors) and lacked some of the big names that dotted his competitors’ donor lists. He did, however, score some cash from Pierpont Mobley, who once managed Orange’s Ward 5 campaigns.
Orange himself brought up the rear with total contributions of $3,595, experiencing the largest drop off of any candidate between the last fundraising period and this one. He earned contributions from developer Bill Alsup of Hines and Erika Wadlington, once Orange’s deputy at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and now a leading lobbyist for the D.C. Building Industry Association.
And for the sake of completeness, it’s worth noting that Thomas didn’t report raising any money in his short-lived bid to reclaim his Ward 5 seat. He’ll now pursue the shadow representative seat instead, so long as he can avoid any additional plagiarism scandals.