This period $1,885 $4,085
This period individual $385 $4,085
This period PAC $1,500 $0
Overall $8,757.71* $4,085
In hand $5,636.79 $2,114.42
Spent $4,620.92* $1,970.58
* Items do not include $6,300 accepted and then returned to political action committees.
Source: City Clerk’s Office
MERIDEN — The Republican challenger in the city’s mayoral race had a strong start to fundraising, collecting more than the Democratic incumbent in the most recent filing period, though Mayor Michael S. Rohde still holds a lead in overall funds.
Candidates are required to periodically file updates with the City Clerk, including the most recent Oct. 10 deadline. The latest filing dates back to July 1, before Republican Manny Santos was involved in the mayoral race. Santos officially joined the race in mid-August when he was endorsed by the Republican Town Committee.
In that time, Santos’ campaign has raised $4,085. A total of $1,998 has been spent by Santos’ campaign, most of which was spent on a fundraiser held at the Four Points by Sheraton on Research Parkway. As of last Thursday, Santos’ campaign had $2,114.42 on hand.
Rohde had a quieter filing period in terms of fundraising, receiving $385 in individual contributions since July 1. Another $1,500 was contributed to Rohde’s campaign from a union political action committee. Rohde now has $5,636.79 on hand.
“Most of the fundraising was early on,” Rohde said. “I raised a fair amount for what I wanted to do. It paid for the lawn signs, walk cards and things like that, so I think we’re in pretty good shape for what I set out to do.”
Having raised just over $15,000, Rohde would have likely had a far greater amount of funds, but close to $6,300 was returned in early July. The funds came from union political action committees that attended an April 10 fundraiser at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 777 on East Main Street. Other union contributions were collected at the April fundraiser and another gathering in June.
Though Rohde said he was under no obligation or required to return any of the funding, he did so with a vote regarding a project labor agreement looming. Three of the five union PACs that donated to Rohde’s campaign had signed on with the project labor agreements associated with both high school renovation projects. More than a year after the PLAs were agreed upon, some councilors had attempted to get the PLA rescinded from the Platt project. Rohde opted to use his mayoral powers to veto the decision, with the veto eventually upheld.
“I didn’t feel it was appropriate to have that union PAC money at that time,” Rohde said, noting he did not expect the PLA issue to return. “I do have the support from labor, there’s no question about that. I’m proud to take it.”
On Sept. 7, Rohde’s campaign records show he received a $1,500 donation from one of those union PACs he had returned in July. The donation, which mirrored the previous donation, came from the Operating Engineers Local 478 PAC.
“Since that, the time issue has been cleared,” Rohde said. “The council did what it did...There had just been a potential appearance of a problem, more than any actual problem.”
Santos said he was aware of the campaign funds being returned, but not that the funds were accepted in September.
“It’s most likely because he needs it and just whats to get whatever he can,” Santos said, also commenting on the returning of donations.
“He must have thought that it was best it appeared to be unethical. Whether or not it was, I don’t know. But that’s a lot of money to ret urn and make in one event. There must have been some motive there.”
Overall, Santos said he was humbled by the amount of campaign funds he has raised and by the large number of supporters he has. In total, Santos has more than 60 contributors. Close to two-thirds of Santos’ donations are less than $100, though his largest contribution was for $250. Several members of the city’s Republican Town Committee contributed, in addition to New Life Church Pastro Will Marotti, former state Sen. Leonard F. Suzio and former 5th District Rep. candidate Mark Greenberg.
“I’m very grateful and encouraged by this,” Santos said. “Obviously there’s genuine hope that this will result in a positive outcome for my campaign. I will feel disappointed if I don’t become successful in this election. A lot of people are counting on me.”
Rohde has received campaign contributions from more than 50 people, many of whom are notable within the community, including local attorneys, members of the Carabetta family such as Joseph F. Carabetta Jr., a project manager for Carabetta Cos., and Salvatore “Sam” Carabetta, a Carabetta Cos. founder, and executives of local businesses.
Nearly all of Rohde’s contributions were $100 or more, including two $500 contributions: one from a Hamden Hall administrator and another from an executive at Cardinal Engineering. Cardinal was the engineering firm tasked with redeveloping Falcon Field. Maximum donations are set at $1,000.
“I usually have a list of names of people that support me and they have continued to support me when I ask them to,” Rohde said. “It’s fairly small-scale here and pretty much always has been.”
Rohde compared the Meriden mayoral race to the Middletown race, in which Democratic incumbent Dan Drew is the only candidate. Drew has raised more than $80,000. In Wallingford, both candidates will likely bring in more than $20,000.
Though Rohde called the election “small-scale” in terms of fundraising, Santos said running for elected office is a challenge and does require some fundraising. It also requires a dedicated treasurer to keep tabs on all donations and spending.
“That’s a daunting effort,” he said.
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