Lansing incumbents carry cash advantage ahead of Election Day

Campaign finance reports detail $600K race for Lansing City Hall


(This story was updated, Oct. 27, 202 at 2:00 p.m. to correctly identify the amount of cash that Kathie Dunbar has raised since August, as well as to  include additional context about the source of her campaign debt.)

With less than one week left before the general election in Lansing, recent campaign finance reports show that Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has maintained a heavy financial advantage over his challenger, Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar.

All told, Schor raised more than seven times as much cash as his opponent — collecting about $356,000 compared to only about $49,900 raised by Dunbar. He also had more than $200,000 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Dunbar has about $11,500 left — not even enough to repay half the $28,000 that she loaned to her campaign over the course of this election cycle.

Incumbent City Council members Peter Spadafore, Jeremy Garza and Brian Jackson also outraised their challengers this election cycle, reports showed. In all, about $568,000 was raised by the 10 candidates. And they spent a combined total of about $400,000 on this year’s campaign trail in Lansing.

Here’s an overview of what the latest campaign finance reports showed: 

Andy Schor (left) and Kathie Dunbar.
Andy Schor (left) and Kathie Dunbar.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor raised about $200,000 more than his challenger and every City Council candidate combined this year with a whopping $356,000 — about $44,000 of which arrived within the last two months. His campaign was also the priciest, with a total of about $242,000 spent in pursuit of a second term.

The mayor’s largest donations this cycle included $18,500 from a political action committee representing the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters; $8,500 from a PAC for the law firm of Miller Canfield; $3,100 from John Clark, a partner at Lansing-based Clark Construction; About $2,500 from City Attorney Jim Smiertka; $2,100 from Ozone’s Brewhouse owner Daniel Malone; $2,000 from Jeff Donahue, the CEO of Green Peak Industries, a cannabis company in Dimondale; $2,000 from Joe Abood, chief deputy city attorney; $1,500 from Okemos attorney Theresa Bingman, a paid consultant for the city who also helped organize Schor’s Racial Justice and Equity Alliance; $1,450 from Christopher Stralkowski, project manager at Ferguson Development, as well as $250 from owner Joel Ferguson. PACs representing McLaren Healthcare and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce also each donated $1,000.

Other noteworthy donors included developer Pat Gillespie, City Council President Peter Spadafore, Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth, Register of Deeds Derrick Quinney, Commissioner Park Polsdofer, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mayor Alan Webber, Lansing Board of Water & Light Manager Dick Peffley, Interim Fire Chief Greg Martin and Matthew Moroun, son of the late Detroit billionaire Manuel Moroun.

Schor’s largest expenses included about $28,700 spent on campaign consulting, about $21,000 spent on mailers and literature and $1,500 for a video shoot. His latest reports show no outstanding debts and a cash balance of about $222,000.

Challenger and City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar collected about $49,400 this campaign cycle — about $13,200 of which arrived since Aug. 24. And with about 10 days until the election, she still had about $11,500 to spend.

The largest donations listed in Dunbar’s latest reports include $2,100 from Dorothy Johnson, a compliance manager for the Michigan Democratic Party; $1,500 from Joslin Monahan, an attorney at the law firm of Miller Johnson; and $1,000 each from local insurance agent Chaz Carillo and Noel LaPorte, the owner of Capitol Advocacy Services Group in East Lansing. Dunbar also had a house party fundraiser in September that collected about $1,700 in donations.

With only three dozen donations tracked since August, however, the bulk of Dunbar’s campaign has been covered through personal loans of about $23,000 — which Dunbar has cited as an inheritance that she received over the summer.

Dunbar also spent about $37,400 in total, including about $5,200 on printing and postage, $1,400 on campaign consulting and about $700 on an ad in City Pulse.

Notably, the latest campaign finance reports also showed that Schor collected about four times as many individual donations as Dunbar since August — 144 at an average of $305 compared to only 36 for Dunbar with an average of $228.

Dunbar was also late to file her campaign finance reports and will face a $25 fine as a result of her tardiness, according to County Clerk Barb Byrum. Dunbar’s reports were also left incomplete until Monday — a maneuver that Byrum labeled to City Pulse as “a bad faith attempt” to comply with state reporting requirements.

City Council (At-Large)

Outside of the mayor’s race, City Councilman Peter Spadafore collected more campaign cash than any other candidate running in Lansing this year — including about twice as much as his next closest contender, Jeffrey Brown.

In all, Spadafore raised about $43,800 and spent about $34,300. Since August, he collected 27 individual donations averaging about $202 each — more than 40% of which came from outside of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.

His largest donations since the primary election included $1,500 from the Realtors PAC of Michigan; $1,000 from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC; $500 from Noel LaPorte, the owner of Capitol Advocacy Services in East Lansing; $500 from David Grant, an insurance salesman in Ohio, and $400 from the defunct Witwer for Michigan campaign. He also collected donations from City Attorney Jim Smiertka and Mayor Andy Schor for $250.

Spadafore’s largest expenses included about $7,500 on printing campaign materials and about $3,000 on political consulting this cycle. He also has some of the most leftover cash, with a last known campaign balance of about $22,000.

Jeffrey Brown ran the second-costliest campaign for an at-large seat, having raised about $26,500 and spent about $24,600 this election cycle. He still owes himself $150 and has about $1,400 cash on hand to last him into November.

Brown’s largest donors included $5,500 from Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 333; $2,500 from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC; $2,000 from Michael Doherty, the owner of local cannabis company Rehbel Industries; and $2,000 from the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

Other noteworthy donors included Schor; Council members Carol Wood and Jeremy Garza; former Councilwoman Jody Washington; local developer Brent Forsberg and attorney and city consultant Teresa Bingman.

Brown’s largest expenses included about $12,800 spent on campaign literature, $500 on acquiring certified voter lists and $300 in fines for late finance reports.

Notably, Brown collected a larger proportion of donations from Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties than any other local candidate — a rate of about 94.2%.

Challenger Claretta Duckett-Freeman was next, having raised about $17,800 and spent about $11,900 in her bid for a seat on the Council. She heads into November with no outstanding debt and a total cash balance of about $6,000.

Duckett-Freeman also collected more individual contributions since August than any other At-Large Council candidate, according to campaign finance reports.

Her largest donation was $1,000 from Kathy Wolfe, a local state parole officer. Duckett-Freeman also collected $800 from a family member in Illinois; $300 from Kristie Guerrero-Taylor, a case manager at St. Vincent Catholic Charities; and $200 from the Green Party of the United States. The rest of her donations — most of which came from Lansing residents — were mostly for $100 or less.

Duckett-Freeman’s largest expense was about $3,700 spent on campaign literature and $500 spent at a fundraising event at the Ocean Crab restaurant.

Rachel Willis ran the cheapest campaign this year, collecting a total of about $9,300 — and spending just about every cent on mailers and advertisements.

Her campaign was mostly funded through an $1,800 loan from her mother, former Lansing School District board member Robin Lewis, as well as a $1,025 loan from herself. Other top donations included $300 from Lansing retiree Patricia Marrison; $275 from East Lansing attorney Brittany Catterick; and $250 from both Inkster attorney Byron Nolen and City Council President Spadafore.

Like Dunbar, Willis also did not submit her campaign finance reports in a timely manner on Friday evening and will face a $25 fine for her tardiness, officials said. Her initially late report was filed and made publicly available on Monday morning.

Oprah Revish
Oprah Revish
City Council (Second Ward)

Second Ward Councilman Jeremy Garza outraised his challenger, Oprah Revish, by five figures this election cycle — collecting $34,300 in donations while Revish raised only $9,600, reports showed. Garza also bankrolled a much more expensive campaign, spending about $10,100 while Revish spent about $6,300.

Garza also spent about twice as much as Revish on campaign literature — the largest expenses of both of their campaigns at $6,300 and $3,500, respectively.

Garza’s biggest donations since August included $500 each from political action committees that represent the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. He also received $500 from Noemi Romero, a secretary at the Motorcars of Lansing dealership, and $200 from Dick Peffley, the general manager at the Lansing Board of Water & Light.

Revish collected four times as many individual contributions as Garza since August — averaging $68 each compared to an average of $244 for Garza. Her largest donations included $600 from Ben Rathbun, the president of Rathbun Insurance Agency; $500 from unemployed Lansing resident Larry Kirchoff; $400 from Lansing floor installer Paul Torok; $259 from Lansing resident Dinah DeWald; and $225 from Julia Kramer, a manager at the Allen Neighborhood Center. Revish also personally funded her campaign through a loan of $444.

City Council (Fourth Ward)

Fourth Ward Councilman Brian Jackson has raised about $11,400 since last October. Since April, Elvin Caldwell, his opponent, has brought in about $8,700.

Still, Jackson has been running a much more expensive campaign. Reports show he spent about $13,200 this year — including $6,900 on literature and other materials, as well as $2,000 for campaign management and consulting. He also paid up about $1,400 to Byrum’s office to pay off fines for filing late reports.

Caldwell reported expenses of about $8,700 — mostly on mailers and signs. He heads into the November election with about $1,000 cash on hand. Jackson didn’t list a balance in his reports, but he appears to have emptied his account.

Jackson’s biggest recent donations included $500 from Myisha Rush, a counselor in Virginia; $400 from D.C. attorney Courtney Alvarez; $250 each from Lansing School District teacher Anthony Norris. Principal Daniel Boggan III and Ryan Basore, the owner of the local Redemption Cannabis brand.

Other noteworthy donors included scores of local lawyers, bankers and accountants, Lansing City Attorney Jim Smiertka and State Rep. Sarah Anthony.

Caldwell’s top donations included $2,500 from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC; $1,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 352 and 665; $500 each from the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors and Councilwoman Carol Wood; $450 from Dale Schrader, the president of the Walnut Neighborhood Association; $300 from Kevin Shaw, the president of Wieland, a local construction contractor; and $200 from Board of Water & Light Manager Dick Peffley. Caldwell also collected $1,800 at three meet-and-greet events this year.

Notably, Caldwell collected about 89.6% of his 55 reported donations from within Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties, compared to about 59.6% for Jackson. Caldwell donors are also donated more on average — $188 to Jackson’s $123.

Which Lansing candidates moved the most cash this election cycle?

Total Contributions

Andy Schor $356,000

Kathie Dunbar $49,900

Peter Spadafore $43,800

Jeremy Garza $34,300

Jeffrey Brown $26,500

Claretta Duckett-Freeman $17,800

Brian Jackson $11,400

Elvin Caldwell $9,700

Oprah Revish $9,600

Rachel Willis $9,300

This figure represents the total amount of donations collected over this campaign cycle. 

Most Individual Contributions

Andy Schor 144

Brian Jackson 87

Claretta Duckett-Freeman 70

Elvin Caldwell 55

Jeffrey Brown 49

Oprah Revish 40

Kathie Dunbar 36

Peter Spadafore 27

Rachel Willis 23

Jeremy Garza 10

This figure represents the number of donations each candidate has collected since Aug. 24. Unlike other candidates who competed in the primary, Jackson’s report includes donations received since Oct. 25, 2020. Caldwell’s report listed donations received since April 7, 2021.  

Most Greater Lansing Contributions

Jeffrey Brown 94.2%

Elvin Caldwell 89.6%

Oprah Revish 88.9%

Rachel Willis 83.9%

Kathie Dunbar 76.9%

Jeremy Garza 77.3%

Claretta Duckett-Freeman 70.6%

Andy Schor 64.6%

Brian Jackson 59.6%

Peter Spadafore 59.5%

This figure represents the proportion of donations collected since Aug. 24 that reportedly arrived from individuals and corporations located in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. Jackson and Caldwell’s campaign finance reports included donations from before Aug. 24. 

Total Expenditures

Andy Schor $241,800

Kathie Dunbar $37,400

Peter Spadafore $34,300

Jeffrey Brown $24,600

Brian Jackson $13,200

Claretta Duckett-Freeman $11,900

Jeremy Garza $10,100

Rachel Willis $9,300

Elvin Caldwell $8,700

Oprah Revish $6,300

This figure represents the total amount of expenses reported over this campaign cycle. 

Remaining Cash 

Andy Schor $222,000

Peter Spadafore $22,000

Jeremy Garza $15,300

Kathie Dunbar $11,500

Claretta Duckett-Freeman $6,000

Oprah Revish $2,100

Jeffrey Brown $1,400

Elvin Caldwell $1,000

Rachel Willis $5

Brian Jackson $0


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