Patrick Mara's war chest is biggest in final stretch of D.C. Council race

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer

Republican Patrick Mara has a pile of cash to burn through before the D.C. Council special election next Tuesday.

With less than a week before the election for an at-large seat, Mara leads all candidates with $82,676 to spend, according to a campaign finance report filed Tuesday.

"That's kind of a stunner, a little bit," said Bryan Weaver, a former at-large council candidate who said he is undecided in this race. "He's going to do a lot more direct appeals to Dems that have voted for him in the past and then independent and Republican households."

With a little less than a week to go before Election Day, political analysts say a candidate could easily spend large sums of money by sending targeted mail, paying for phone calls to likely voters or even by purchasing television ads.

While Mara has a significant lead in terms of cash on hand -- followed by former reporter Elissa Silverman, who has $42,212 to spend -- all told, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Matthew Frumin has raised the most money.

But Frumin has spent more than three quarters of his $156,412, leaving him with $37,236 available to spend as the race heads to the finish line. Of course, any candidate could continue to raise money as the campaign winds to a close.

Anita Bonds, who currently holds the seat that's up for grabs, brought in the largest haul during this leg of the race, raising $71,000 since the last filing deadline. Bonds has $29,733 cash on hand.

Bonds, one of four Democrats running for the at-large seat, has recently seen some of the race's momentum shift in her direction. A majority of D.C. Council members have publicly supported her campaign.

"A week ago, I was a bit more confident that Mara was the front-runner," Weaver said.

Former Councilman Michael Brown's decision to drop out of the race on April 2, citing family reasons, made Bonds the only black Democrat in the race.

"If Michael Brown was still in it, this would be a very different dynamic," said former council candidate Sekou Biddle.

A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found 43 percent of registered voters had not made a decision in the race, 19 percent planned to vote for Bonds, 13 percent supported Silverman, and 13 percent supported Mara. Eight percent of registered voters said they planned to vote for Frumin.

Chuck Thies, a political consultant who plans to vote for Mara, said the dynamics of the race could change if another candidate decided to drop out. But he said that prospect was unlikely.

"Any of the former mayors would be a big endorsement," Thies said. "David Catania would be a big endorsement."

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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