Big checks continue to fuel Williams campaign (Updated)
After he quickly gained a seat at the political table earlier this year, the cash kept to rolling in for Democratic Anthony Williams in recent weeks, and massive contributions from school choice advocates continued to fuel his bid for the Governor’s Mansion, according to an analysis of newly-filed state campaign finance data.
Williams, a Philadelphia state Senator, has now raised over $4.2 million since making a late entrance into the four-way primary this year. He has spent virtually all of it, and as of Tuesday had less than $127,000 in the bank. But the cash-on-hand number may not mean much, with little reason to expect that the wealthy contributors who have already given so much will pull back with less than two weeks to go.
The money has made Williams, in the minds of many political insiders, the only threat to Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato’s hopes of winning the party nomination.
Like his first fundraising haul, the money he raised over the last four weeks overwhelmingly came from school choice advocates. Students First PAC, which had already given Williams’ campaign a quarter-million dollars, kicked in more than $1.1 million over the last month, including $200,000 the group spent on an ad buy for Williams. During the last reporting cycle, the $1 million Williams netted from two school choice PACs came entirely from three wealthy suburban investors who donated to those committees. This time, save for $25,000 from a Radnor couple involved in real estate management and estate planning, the Students First PAC money again came from the same three Susquehanna International Group executives, according to state campaign finance data: Arthur Dantchik, Joel Greenberg and Jeff Yass.
Williams has also begun to benefit from large individual contributors, with two donors who gave in excess of half-a-million dollars. Chicago resident Barre Seid gave Williams’ campaign a whopping $700,000. Seid is an executive at Tripp Lite, a private company that manufactures surge protectors and many other power-related products. A foundation bearing his name is a major school choice advocate. Williams got another $600,000 from Henry Rowan, the Langhorne philanthropist and Rowan University namesake.
Three individuals gave Williams about $10,000, four donated $20,000, one kicked in $25,000, and two individuals gave $50,000. When all was said and done, of the $4.2 million his campaign has raked in, about $4 million of that total has come from contributions of $10,000 or more. Seemingly more than even the prolific Ed Rendell, Williams has built his current political prowess on big checks.
The money has allowed Williams to advertise at a frenetic pace, though early polling has indicated he may not be seeing the kind of boost from that effort that his campaign would hope. He recently broke double-digits in the Muhlenberg College tracking poll, but Onorato retains a formidable lead with about 35 percent of the vote in most polls. As of Tuesday, Williams’ campaign had spent about $3.4 million on major media buys. He also dropped $172,000 on a direct mail campaign.
Log-on later to download a copy of Williams’ campaign finance report.
UPDATE: In a statement Williams says that “during this campaign we have made improving Pennsylvania’s schools one of the key components of our agenda for the state. I believe that, in order to move our economy forward and create an attractive climate for job growth, we need to support schools that work, and give parents the power to get their children out of schools that don’t. That means supporting public schools while also encouraging magnet schools, charter schools, vocational schools, and every other kind of educational opportunity for students. And it means giving parents the power to choose the school that’s right for their children and letting the money follow the child. Our school choice platform has many passionate supporters and our strong fundraising is a reflection of their support.”
May 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm