Susan Sarandon and Twitter executives are among the Black Lives Matter activist’s donors, but opponents still polling higher with Baltimore residents
Celebrities and tech executives were among the top donors around the country to the Baltimore mayoral bid of Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson. But the candidate is still polling at less than 1% in a race against more than a dozen other candidates.
Actors Susan Sarandon and Rashida Jones contributed $500 and $2,500 respectively. Executives from companies including Twitter, Netflix and Slack made donations of the $6,000 legal limit, according to campaign finance reports filed on Tuesday. In all, McKesson received contributions totaling more than $222,000 from close to 5,000 individual donors in every state in the US, reflecting the national support for a candidate with broad name recognition and a major national social media following.
But that national clout and celebrity support has not yet translated into local momentum, in a city where as much as 30% of the population does not have regular internet access. Mckesson’s campaign has spent $127,523.47, leaving just over $97,000 in the war chest for the city’s hotly contested Democratic mayoral primary – which has traditionally determined the winner in the general election in this deeply Democratic city.
Opponent Catherine Pugh spent $589,000 – much of it on television spots – during the past two months, and is virtually tied with former mayor Sheila Dixon as frontrunner. David Warnock, a white businessman who only recently moved back to the city from a multimillion-dollar mansion in the county, spent $1.3m on media in the past two months and is running third. Like Donald Trump in the presidential campaign, Warnock is largely financing his own campaign.
The mayoral race opened up when the current mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, announced she would not run last September. The primary will be held on 26 April, one day before the anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man who sustained a fatal spinal injury while in police custody.
Gray’s death has cast a shadow over the entire election. Dixon, who resigned from the office as part of a plea deal in 2011, was visible during the protests following Gray’s death and received a standing ovation at his funeral. Mckesson, who grew up in Baltimore but was working as a school administration in Minnesota when he got in his car and drove to Ferguson after the death of Mike Brown, returned to Baltimore following Gray’s death. Nick Mosby, another candidates with $133,000 cash on hand, is married to Marilyn Mosby, the city’s top prosecutor who filed charges against the officers involved in Gray’s death.
If there are some prominent national names among Mckesson’s donors, there are some big Baltimore names on the books for both Dixon and Pugh. The Paterakis family, which is responsible for Harbor East, one of the city’s slickest and most controversial developments, gave $12,000 to Dixon’s campaign.
“We need a mayor that is not beholden to establishment politics, receiving money from developers & other companies,” Mckesson tweeted on Tuesday.
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