MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The next city mayoral election is just a few months away, and there has already been some big dollar donations coming in.
Second quarter finance reports were just released this month and FOX13 is taking a closer look at where these donations are coming from.
Incumbent Mayor Jim Strickland is leading the pack with a $917,500.37 balance on hand, followed by former Mayor Willie Herenton with $62,037.13 and County Commissioner Tami Sawyer with $45,137.16.
Strickland’s campaign received donations from the FedEx Corporation PAC and employees. The PAC donated $2,5000 during the second quarter, and several FedEx employees donated between $250 to $1,600.
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Political experts said this kind of support isn’t unusual for an incumbent.
“I think the business community and the corporate community tends to rally around an incumbent, especially if they perceive the incumbent as being fairly well-poised to win re-election,” said Professor Steven Mulroy, with the University of Memphis Law School.
About half of Herenton’s donations for the second quarter are from donors outside of Memphis and Shelby County.
According to his report, Herenton received money from donors in California, Louisiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Mississippi, Arkansas and Georgia.
Sawyer’s second quarter finance report isn’t available online yet, but according to her first quarter report, Sawyer also received about half of her donations from across the country – including Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Illinois, and California.
Some of her biggest donations for $1,500 came from donors in New Jersey.
“In order to make up for that, Herenton and Sawyer are going to have find money wherever they can.
And if it means they have to go out-of-state and have personal contacts then so be it,” said Mulroy.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not illegal. It’s part of the game.”
FOX13 called, emailed and messaged all the campaigns for comments about their individual reports.
Strickland and Sawyer weren’t available for on-camera interviews on Monday and we didn’t hear back from Herenton’s campaign about his availability.
Sawyer sent FOX13 the following statement about outside funding:
“The grassroots movement that we are building to expand equity and opportunity in Memphis is one that people here at home and in many places have felt compelled to support due to the urgent and apparent need for progress and new leadership. Since announcing my candidacy in March, I’ve had the privilege to share my vision and platform with voters in our city and voters across our country. This has allowed us to build a broad network of local and national supporters that includes people who are excited about the opportunity for change that the We Can’t Wait campaign represents.
Our supporters know that I am committed to Memphis being a city where living-wage jobs, quality education, adequate transportation, and clean, safe neighborhoods are accessible to residents of all backgrounds, and that I will continue to fight for progress that mirrors the real needs of the people in our city. Additionally, in Memphis, majority of wealth is held by a small percentage of people with many invested in the continuation of things as they are. From the start, we knew that exploring all options for fundraising support would be necessary to introduce and sustain a progressive campaign that reveals true inequities against a well-financed incumbent who is known to gloss over our unfavorable realities.”
Election day is October 3.
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