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Justin Bibb outraises Kevin Kelley in last campaign finance report before Nov. 2 general election

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 10/22/2021 Seth A. Richardson, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Nonprofit executive Justin Bibb outpaced Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley in fundraising since the primary, though both candidates had more than $165,000 at their disposal heading into the final days of the mayoral election.

Bibb, who won the September primary, outraised Kelley by more than $100,000 since the last filing deadline on Sept. 2. Bibb had about $46,500 more than Kelley in his campaign coffers.

Bibb raised nearly $523,000 since the last reporting period, covering most of the month of September up to Thursday. He entered the reporting period with around $119,000 cash on hand and, after spending around $429,000, ended the period with around $213,000.

Kelley raised more than $416,000 since the last reporting period. After bringing forward more than $80,000 from the prior report and spending around $331,000, Kelley ended the period with about $166,000 cash on hand.

Most of Bibb’s contributions came from relatively small-dollar donors, though with plenty of donations of more than $1,000 from people including former Mayor Michael R. White, who endorsed Bibb and has been instrumental in his campaign, former state Sen. Charlie Butts and Michael Chernoff, general manager of the Cleveland Guardians.

Bibb also received contributions of at least $1,000 from Collective PAC, a political organization that supports Black candidates for office, the Ohio Environmental Council, Service Employers International Union District 1199 and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880.

Ben Newhouse, a member of the Newhouse family that owns Advance Publications, the parent company of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, donated $1,000 to Bibb, bringing his total contributions to $2,000 this election. Newhouse is not a member of the editorial board, which endorsed Bibb in the primary and general election and is separate from news coverage.

Kelley was heavily backed by building and construction trade unions. He received donations of $7,500 from the Bricklayers Local 5 and Allied Craftworkers, Cleveland Building and Trades Council, Ohio State Building and Trades Council – who donated $15,000 total through two of their political entities – Bricklayers Local 5, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Northwestern Ohio Building and Trades Council, Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio – who also donated $15,000 total – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC and the Ohio Laborers District Council PAC. He received a plethora of other building trades contributions of more than $5,000.

Both Bibb and Kelley were heavily backed by lawyers and developers, including some who gave to both sides.

That includes the DiGeronimo family of DiGeronimo Companies – an Independence-based construction firm –who gave $4,500 to Bibb individually as well as held a fundraiser for him that raised $20,500. The DiGeronimos also gave at least $6,500 to Kelley’s campaign.

Robert Klonk, chairman and CEO of Oswald Companies, also gave both Bibb and Kelley $2,500.

Though Bibb has slightly more wiggle room in terms of finances, according to the reports, the relatively narrow margin between the two candidates means there will likely be a spending spree in the final days leading up to the Nov. 2 general election.

Both candidates spent heavily on forms of voter contact, mostly on direct mail. Bibb’s campaign made a $102,000 purchase on network television advertising and another $25,000 on cable, according to Columbus-based media tracking and consulting firm Medium Buying.

Kelley hadn’t purchased any television advertising as of Wednesday, though an independent expenditure called Citizens for Cleveland had spent around $44,000 on network television spots on Kelley’s behalf featuring city councilmen Blaine Griffin and Kevin Conwell, both of whom have endorsed Kelley.

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