CHICAGO (CBS) — Rahm Emanuel reinforced his status as the frontrunner in the race to succeed Mayor Richard M. Daley on Thursday by amassing a campaign warchest of nearly $12 million.
Emanuel’s campaign announced Thursday afternoon that it has raised $10.6 million as of Wednesday. In addition, Emanuel transferred $1.1 million in existing funds from his congressional campaign account after leaving his post as White House chief of staff and entering the race for mayor.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that the $11.7 million total for the Emanuel campaign is an unprecedented amount for a mayoral race in Chicago.
“Not only do these contributions reflect the strength of our support across Chicago, but they include contributions from business and philanthropic leaders around the country who believe in Rahm’s leadership and his vision for the city,” campaign manager Scott Fairchild said in a statement Thursday. “If elected, he will ask these donors and other leaders around the country to commit to investing in Chicago’s future.”
Emanuel’s $11.7 million warchest is more than triple the size of the campaign funds of the other three top candidates for mayor. And there are still nearly five weeks left to campaign and raise more money before the election.
Among Chicago’s big names who donated money were the Pritzker family, which contributed $200,000; the Crowns, $175,000; and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, $200,000, according to campaign disclosure reports filed Thursday.
Although the Emanuel campaign says 74 percent of contributors live in Cook County, the really big dollars came from Hollywood. Nationally known names included Steven Spielberg and his company Dreamworks, Apple’s Steve Jobs and developer Donald Trump.
Former Chicago Board of Education president Gery Chico has raised about $2.8 million; former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun has raised $592,000 and City Clerk Miguel del Valle has raised $500,000.
The huge imbalance came as no real surprise to the other candidates. And Chico said Thursday afternoon that raising money is not the only factor in winning an election.
“Money’s not the exclusive determinant of who wins. There’s plenty of people both here and around the country who raised a lot of money and are not in office right now,” Chico said. “So, it’s about having a good campaign strategy, a good campaign plan, executing that plan. We’re very comfortable with where we’re at, we’re very confident.”
Chico and Braun have both said it will take $5 million to be competitive with Emanuel and they were still trying to raise that total in time for the Feb. 22 election.
Braun, who seems to be showing some movement in polls, maintains she’s not concerned about Emanuel’s warchest.
“If our numbers continue to go up, based on people power, as opposed to just the money, I’ll be happy with that,” she said.
But Emanuel has already raised enough to spend $125,000 on a single campaign commercial which will air during the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game on Sunday.
Emanuel’s total of $11.7 million is far more than Richard M. Daley ever raised in any of his six winning campaigns for mayor. Only during his first successful bid for mayor in 1989 did he raise even close to that amount — about $7.3 million.
After that, Daley rarely faced any serious challengers and spent an average of about $4 million per campaign.
But even Emanuel’s massive mayoral campaign fund is dwarfed by the astronomical $24 million that Rod Blagojevich raised when he won the race for Illinois governor in 2002.