RACINE — Spending in the City of Racine mayor’s race has exceeded $500,000, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday.
The incumbent, Cory Mason, and Henry Perez, the challenger, face off in the Spring Election on Tuesday, April 4. In-person absentee voting (early voting) is now underway and runs through this Saturday (April 1).
The mayoral campaign has escalated over the past month to include multiple direct mail pieces, television and digital ads and at least one billboard in addition to ubiquitous yard signs scattered throughout the city.
Campaign finance reports, covering activities between Feb. 7 and March 20, reveal a stark contrast between the two campaigns.
Mason, who represented the Racine area in the Wisconsin Assembly for a decade before being elected mayor in 2017, used his connections with the state’s Democratic Party to raise and spend just over $500,000, according to the Mason for Racine campaign’s 66-page report.
Perez, a Racine Common Council member since 2013, had a considerably smaller campaign footprint. The Friends of Henry Perez’ 12-page report listed slightly more than $14,000 in spending and $20,569 in receipts.
State Democrats boost Mayor Mason
Mason for Racine raised $537,559.45 and reported disbursements of $500,520.05 during the February/March reporting period. The campaign reported $67,426.73 cash on hand.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin was far and away the biggest contributor to the Mason campaign chipping in $487,426.73. The Mason campaign transferred $67,426.73 back to the Democrats leaving it with $420,000. That amount was roughly the same amount that the campaign spent on television advertising during the period.
Among donations from political action committees and similar organizations, AFT Wisconsin, IUPAT Political Action Together Committee, Plumbers/Fitters 11PAC WI, United Association Local 119 and United Association of Journeymen each contributed $1,555.
Contributions of $1,000 each came from WEC Energy Group PAC and Wisconsin Carpenters PAC. The UAW (United Auto Workers) Wisconsin State PAC gave $1,250.
The Mason campaign also benefited from the still-active campaign committees of former candidates. Randy Bryce for Congress (from Bryce’s unsuccessful 2018 bid for Congress) gave $1,000, Friends of Kathy Ehley for Mayor (a former Wauwatosa mayor) gave $200 while Kelda Roys for Governor (from the 2018 election) gave $50.
The active campaign account of Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, (Friends of Greta Neubauer) contributed $1,000.
Mason also received donations from 181 individuals totaling $35,417.50, an average of about $195 apiece. Of these individuals, about 31% were from Racine County while two-thirds were from elsewhere in Wisconsin. Four contributors were from out of state.
Sarah Godlewski, former Wisconsin Treasurer who was recently appointed Wisconsin Secretary of State by the governor, made a $100 donation. Former State Sen. Gary Goyke of Milwaukee contributed $500 and former State Sen. Timothy Cullen of Janesville gave $300.
Where the money went
The biggest spending chunk of the Mason campaign – $420,280 – went to SP Media Group, for media buys. The Chicago-based agency specializes in political campaign digital and TV advertising. According to its website, its clients have included U.S. Senate, governor, attorney general, and mayoral candidates throughout the country.
The Mason campaign began airing two commercials on Milwaukee TV stations last week.
Other major expenditures included:
- Pivot Group Inc., Alexandria, Va., printing, $2,205.
- Weber Printing Co., Milwaukee, printing, $515.68.
- ActBlue Technical Services (Democratic Party’s contribution processing), $1,098.53.
- NGP VAN Inc., New York City, campaign software, $650.
Perez campaign relies on individuals
Friends of Henry Perez raised $20,569 and disbursed $14,385.97 during February/March.
The campaign has $6,280.99 cash on hand. Perez has loaned his campaign $2,200, the report stated.
Individual contributions comprised virtually all (96.8%) of the Perez campaign’s fundraising.
Friends of Dave DeGroot (current Mount Pleasant Village Board President) contributed $200 and the 1st Wisconsin Congressional District Republican Party gave $250. Carmella for School Board, a 2021 school board campaign fund formed by Carmella Venturini of Mount Pleasant, gave $200.
The Perez campaign previously received $500 from the campaign account of Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.
The Perez campaign raised $19,919 from 75 individuals for an average of about $265 apiece. All but three individual donors were from Racine County.
Signs and literature
Friends of Henry Perez spent much of its money on campaign yard signs and printed materials, according to the report.
Eye Openerz on the Move, a Racine business owned by Republican activist Ken Brown, was paid $2,000 for consulting, the report stated.
Meanwhile, the campaign spent $5,489.72 with VistaPrint, an online printing service based in Massachusetts, for campaign literature. Another $2,331 was spent with MailNShip of Racine for vinyl yard signs. Romme Printing was paid $514.90 for printing letters and inserts.
Concerned Citizens for Safer Streets LLC, an independent campaign committee, paid to produce and broadcast a TV ad criticizing Mason that aired on Milwaukee TV stations almost two weeks ago. The group more recently produced a mailer on behalf of the Perez campaign.
Where to vote
Racine residents can find their polling place and other voting information in the Racine County Eye’s Racine County 2023 Election Guide.
Campaign Finance Reports
To view Mason’s official campaign Finance Report:
To view Perez’s official campaign Finance Report:
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