ELKHART — Republican candidate for Elkhart mayor Dave Miller raised 41% more money than Democrat Rod Roberson from April 13 through Oct. 11, according to campaign finance reports.
Miller raised $124,595 in that time, increasing his total for the year to $135,705. Roberson raised $88,136 in the same period, reaching $129,020 for the year.
Miller’s campaign manager said the Republican’s experience of running for mayor twice in the past is part of the reason he has been successful.
“It obviously shows that the community already believed in him enough to elect him twice,” Fink said. “The projects that we have going on throughout town now are very comparable to the things that he accomplished or at least started while he was in office previously, so I think a lot of that plays into it as well.”
Both mayoral campaigns relied on large contributions. Miller received $10,000 from Rex Martin, David Weaver, William Weed, and Tom and Nancy Curtis.
Roberson received $30,000 from Art Decio, $15,000 from Rex Martin, and $10,000 from Charlie Habic.
Unlike Miller, Roberson went through a contested primary where he both outraised and outspent the Republican. By Oct. 11, Roberson had spent $103,027, leaving him $25,993. Miller spent $88,872 and had $37,836 left at the filing deadline.
“It doesn’t bother me how much he raises,” Roberson said. “It kind of creates an opportunity for me to make sure that I’m utilizing my funding well.”
Roberson was outraised by his Democratic primary opponent Ashley Boling Molyneaux in the spring but won 57% of the votes.
“I think I’ve had a pretty good presence, and I’m hopeful to continue that presence throughout the campaign, and I look forward to finishing in the next couple of weeks as strong as I possibly can,” he said.
The Democrat relies entirely on a volunteer campaign staff led by campaign manager Tanzie Nielsen.
Miller, however, has spent some of his money paying his top staffers, Jason Fink and campaign coordinator Bob Thatcher, who have received $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.
Fink said the Miller campaign is not taking anything for granted, despite the financial advantage.
“I think we’ve got a tight race, but any kind of additional fundraising that we can get is always good,” he said.
Republicans also outraised Democrats in the competitive races for Elkhart City Council. Republican candidates in Districts 1, 2 and 6 and in the at-large race raised a combined $70,558 since April, while Democrats running for the same seats raised $28,627.
City Council President Brian Dickerson, R-at-large, said the good Republican results say something about the individual candidates.
“I don’t know that it’s necessarily about a question of party. I think sometimes it’s a question about qualifications, in this case,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson raised more than twice that of any other candidate since April, at $39,060. Second was Mary Olson, R-at-large, raising $16,316.
Dickerson said he was fortunate to have several community members who felt he should be re-elected and were willing to help with that. Among his most significant contributors were Rex Martin and Art Decio, who both gave $5,000 to the Dickerson campaign.
“Given their history in the business community and as philanthropists in Elkhart, I’m just honored to have their support,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson also significantly outspent other candidates so far, spending $22,201 by Oct. 11, leaving him another $23,000, which is more than any other candidate has raised. He did not say whether his campaign felt it necessary to spend the remaining funds.
“Obviously I’m not going to lay out my entire campaign strategy here on the phone, as this is a competitive race. But I can tell you ... I would strongly anticipate having a strong showing between now and Election Day,” he said.
The Democratic candidate with the most fundraising success to date is Arvis Dawson, who is running for an at-large seat. He raised $7,820 since April, making his total for the year $22,312.
Democrats only hold a financial advantage in District 6, as former Democratic Councilwoman Tonda Hines has raised $8,154 this year, while incumbent Republican Pam Kurpegeweit raised $1,305.
An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Brian Thomas, R-2, had raised $485 by Oct. 11. That was his result for the first quarter of 2019. Thomas raised $3,634.34 by Oct. 11 and spent $962.98. His Democratic opponent, Andrew Strycker, has raised $3,048 through Oct. 11 and spent $2,006. The total fundraising result for competitive City Council races has been changed to reflect this correction.
Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus