WASHINGTON (AP) — District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray has flexed his fundraising muscle in his bid for a second term, raising $627,000 in less than two months for the April Democratic primary.
By the time Gray entered the race in December, several of his opponents had already been raising money for months. Councilmember Jack Evans topped $1 million before Gray had raised a dollar, with Councilmember Muriel Bowser not far behind.
But in the 7 ½ weeks since the campaigns last filed financial statements, Gray's haul more than triples what any other candidate brought in.
Overall, Evans has still raised the most money — $1.2 million. Bowser is close behind at $1.08 million, and she has the most money left to spend — $791,000. Evans has $685,000 in cash on hand, and Gray has $560,000.
No candidate is coming close to the pace set by former mayor Adrian Fenty, who raised $5 million for his losing re-election bid against Gray in 2010.
That year, Gray also received $650,000 in illicit funds from a district businessman to help get him elected, an effort that federal prosecutors called a "shadow campaign." Two close aides to Gray's 2010 bid have pleaded guilty to felonies related to the shadow funds, and two others have pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to pay another candidate to attack Fenty.
The campaign remains under investigation. Gray has not been charged and denies all wrongdoing, although he has apologized for the actions of his aides.
While some 2010 donors have abandoned Gray, his fundraising total and a recent poll by The Washington Post suggest he is in a strong position to win the primary. The poll showed Gray with 24 percent support among registered Democrats. None of his challengers polled above 12 percent.
"People who care deeply about the District of Columbia are supporting my campaign so that we can build on the accomplishments of our first term," Gray said in a statement.
The rest of the candidates are far behind in the money race. Councilmember Tommy Wells, who is accepting contributions only from individuals, has raised $511,000. Former State Department official Reta Lewis has raised $255,000 but has just $30,000 left. Restaurateur Andy Shallal has raised $224,000, and Councilmember Vincent Orange has raised $123,000.
The winner of the primary could face a credible general-election challenger in Councilmember David Catania, an at-large independent. Catania's mayoral exploratory committee, which also filed its first report late Friday, has raised $116,000 in two months.
Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols .