Democrat David Howard has raised more than $60,000 from African-American voters in North Carolina, far surpassing the amounts reportedly raised by his three Democratic rivals for mayor, Jennifer Roberts, Dan Clodfelter, and Michael Barnes.
African-Americans make up 64 percent of Charlotte democrats, and who they support will largely determine the winner of Tuesday’s primary.
By matching the donors listed in campaign finance reports with North Carolina voter registration records, it’s possible to determine the race and ethnicity of each person making contributions to the candidate’s campaign. Out-of-state contributors or non-registered voters aren’t included in the totals.
According to the most recent finance reports released Tuesday, Howard has raised $60,640 from black voters in N.C. - more than three times as much as all the other candidates combined.
Jennifer Roberts reported $12,465. Clodfelter raised $5,151, and Barnes raised $4,275, though Barnes hasn’t made fundraising a priority in his campaign.
“David Howard has certainly coalesced a key group of voters for this primary election,” said political analyst Michael Bitzer of Catawba College. “If he’s garnering a solid majority of the donors for that key group, it may start to send a signal that indeed, he is getting that kind of groundswell and key support that’s going to be needed to come out of a four-way primary.”
And in what’s expected to be a low-turnout election, it’s important for candidates to have an engaged base. That may be why Howard has been focusing his campaign in Charlotte’s heavy minority East and West sides.
Howard recently stopped by the No Grease Barbershop on Beatties Ford Road, where he shook hands and spoke with Rickey McBride, a 57 year old African-American, who was getting his sides trimmed. It was McBride’s first time meeting Howard, but it wasn’t the first times he’d heard of him.
“I met his mom years ago when I was in a house - I got burned out from my apartment and I had to be transitioned around from... public housing. And I met his mom back in the day. She was part of the resources,” he said, “So I know a little bit about the family.”
Howard gets this a lot. His mother, Judy Williams, is well known and well-liked in the area. She advocates for the families of local murder victims, and she has a reputation for helping out locals in need. In the past few weeks, she’s appeared on local media to support Howard’s campaign, and Howard could really use all the support she can give.
Even with financial backing from the black community, Howard hasn’t performed well in the polls. Last month, the Charlotte Observer found Roberts leading the democratic candidates with 39 percent support from likely democratic voters. Howard came in at 9 percent - dead last.
He spent most of the labor day weekend in his old, white Lexis making the rounds from barber shops to hair salons to churches and restaurants. He admits the lousy poll numbers bother him.
“I think some of it has to do with the issues over the last year with that former mayor maybe,” he said, referring to Patrick Cannon, who’s now in federal prison, “I’ve actually heard from some people in that community, ‘maybe we should let them have it this time.’ And I keep telling them, I don’t know what ‘they’ are, ‘cause I didn’t do anything wrong. But you can hear clearly what’s implied there.”
Overall, Roberts still leads the pack in total money raised. Her campaign has brought in almost $370,000. Howard and Clodfelter have both raised about $230,000, though $37,700 of Clodfelter’s money was given to him by himself. Barnes has raised about $30,000.