The fundraising race between Mayor Michael Hancock and challenger Kayvan Khalatbari is heating up.
While Hancock has much more money in the bank, the challenger has raised more money in the first three months of 2018. Khalatbari raised about $70,000 to the mayor’s $45,000.
The numbers show that Khalatbari, a marijuana and pizza entrepreneur, is gaining momentum. He now has raised more than $100,000 in total.
“We’re going to be pursuing a pretty good seven-figure number in this campaign, but I think we’re going to spend it a lot more wisely, efficiently,” Khalatbari said, saying that he planned to have a more open and accessible style than the incumbent. “We’re going to do with people what he does with money.”
However, Hancock’s camp is in the stronger financial position. The mayor’s campaign had $401,000 in the bank at the end of March — more than quadruple his challenger. While the last few months were relatively slow, he raised $70,000 in December alone during a late-year push. (Check out our chart below.)
“Mayor Hancock is extremely grateful for the support from the Denver community. Re-election is more than a year out and he’s concentrating on running the city,” wrote campaign spokesman Jake Martin. (He cited affordable housing, economic opportunity, traffic, homelessness and the opioid crisis as priorities.)
So far, the incumbent has attracted bigger donations.
The median donation for the campaign to Hancock was $500. The median donation to Khalatbari was $50, according to Denverite’s analysis.
Hancock has some support from within city hall. For example, city attorney Kristin Bronson gave $1,000 in February, while Office of Economic Development director Eric Hiraga gave $600 in the first quarter, records show. Both were appointed by the mayor.
Neither immediately replied to a request for comment on Tuesday afternoon. There is no legal reason that city leaders can’t give to Hancock. The campaign had “(a)bsolutely not” solicited the donations, Martin wrote in an email. About two dozen other city officials were reported as giving money to the mayor, including Councilwoman At-large Debbie Ortega in 2017, who gave $100.
Hancock’s other prominent donors included Patrick Hamill, the chief executive of Oakwood Homes, and $1,000 from former mayor Wellington Webb.
Khalatbari’s base includes many people in the cannabis industry, though he also reported $3,000 from the founder of investment group Saltshaker Holdings and $1,000 from developer Kyle Zeppelin.
Khalatbari also reported a $1,500 donation from Birdy Magazine and $1,500 from Sexpot Comedy. He has ownership stakes in both.
City officials hadn’t published a quarterly financial report from candidate Marcus Giavanni as of Tuesday at 5 p.m. Candidate Kalyn Heffernan started her campaign after the reporting period was over.
The municipal elections are in May 2019.