Money will flow as mayoral race comes down to the wire

As the days dwindle down until the May 1 elections voters can expect to see a barrage of campaign flyers arriving in their mailboxes. Direct mail advertising is a powerful tool in elective politics nowadays, and we’re also likely to see an onslaught of campaign ads on TV because many candidates still favor electronic media.

The latest campaign finance reports were filed last Friday, April 23, and showed several candidates in the hotly contested race for Fort Worth mayor with money to spend.

The Fort Worth mayoral election is a focal point for many voters because the city’s longest-serving mayor, Betsy Price, is stepping down after 10 years in office. There are 10 candidates vying to replace her but much of the focus has been on four contenders: Brian Byrd, Mattie Parker, Deborah Peoples and Ann Zadeh.

Newcomer Steve Penate has been drawing some attention in recent weeks but experienced election watchers see him primarily as a “spoiler” who could pick up enough votes to affect which of the other candidates advance to a likely June 5 runoff that will ultimately determine who succeeds Price as mayor.

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With the end of early voting today (April 27) and the clock winding down toward Election Day, many political insiders believe one of the two runoff slots will go to Peoples, who ran for mayor two years ago and finished second to Price with just under 42 percent of the vote.

As of last Friday, Parker had a huge war chest of $396,409. She has never held elective office but served as chief of staff to Price and the city council. Her financing has come primarily from PACs and longtime Price supporters who tend to represent the Fort Worth business and political “establishment.” Price has endorsed Parker.

Bird, who’s been endorsed by former Fort Worth mayor and current U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, had $96,473 on hand as of last Friday. Peoples had $48,782; Zadeh had $34,848 and Penate had $2,681.

Candidates don’t always spend all the money they raise, of course, and Parker in particular looks as though she could carry over a substantial amount of cash should she make it into the runoff. Once the runoff matchup is determined, a new round of fundraising will begin and experts say that if Peoples advances she could be the recipient of a fresh stream of money, much of it from sources outside the city or even the state. Peoples is the Tarrant County Democratic Party chair and the national Democratic Party is said to be eager to see a Democrat presiding as mayor of America’s 13th largest city.