Two City Council candidates from the progressive Working Families Party — who are making long-shot bids to steal from Republicans the at-large seats effectively reserved for non-Democrats — raised more money over the last three months than any of their five GOP rivals, campaign records show.
Community organizer Kendra Brooks brought in $147,000 in cash donations, and pastor Nicolas O’Rourke raised $88,000 from June 10 to Sept. 16, the most recent campaign-finance reporting period. The top fund-raiser among the five Republicans seeking at-large seats during that time was incumbent David Oh, who took in about $75,000.
Brooks’ campaign said her haul was the largest of any third-party City Council candidate in Philadelphia history.
The Republicans, however, have been raising money longer than the Working Families Party candidates, and some have comparable amounts of cash on hand. Like Brooks, Oh, fellow incumbent Al Taubenberger, and GOP challenger Dan Tinney have more than $100,000 going into the final stretch of the campaign.
The Working Families Party candidates, and especially Brooks, have garnered attention through endorsements from the left wing of the Democratic Party and from progressive organizations such as Reclaim Philadelphia and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) endorsed Brooks earlier this month, days before the presidential hopeful secured the endorsement of the national Working Families Party.
Their campaigns remain long shots, however, in no small part because what they are seeking to do will require a massive voter-education effort: Traditional Democratic voters will have to forgo casting votes for at least one member of their party. And although they are raising money more quickly than their Republican rivals, the Working Families Party candidates will likely need to spend much more in order to reach enough voters willing to choose third-party candidates.
Brooks and O’Rourke will be aided by an independent expenditure campaign run out of their national party’s New York headquarters that is ostensibly separate from their own campaigns. The independent committee has already begun distributing literature for the candidates but avoided disclosing who is funding its efforts by filing a report Tuesday showing that it has so far received no contributions and is taking on debt to make expenditures.