Friday, July 06, 2001
Fuller lags Luken in money for race
By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Courtis Fuller hopes he can get a few dollars from those who already gave campaign money to Charlie Luken, his major rival for Cincinnati mayor in the September primary.
What I'm hoping is that some of them will still throw some money our way, said Mr. Fuller, the Charter Committee candidate and former news anchor at WLWT-TV (Channel 5).
On Thursday, he began with a list of key players, longtime financial supporters of the Charter Committee, business leaders, union officials, lawyers and others.
Mr. Fuller has a long way to go. He is starting from scratch against a Democratic mayor who has demonstrated broad financial support from sources as disparate as members of the Cincinnati Business Committee and the Laborers Union.
Mr. Luken has about $200,000 in his campaign fund, with three-fourths of it coming from a single event. Mr. Luken held a fund-raising breakfast in February, long before the riots of April and before a challenger of any kind had emerged.
That day, the Luken campaign put plates of fruit and rolls in front of about 700 people and walked away with nearly $150,000 in about an hour-and-a-half.
Lawyers from prestigious downtown firms sat at tables with neighborhood activists, while developers and home builders broke bread with building trade union officers.
Venture capitalist Fred Mayerson's Cincywip Investments LLC was the biggest donor at $10,000.
The list of other big donors to the Luken event was a Who's Who of Cincinnati business: financier and Reds owner Carl H. Lindner ($1,500), developer and port authority Chairman Jack Rouse ($3,000), developer W.O. Brisben ($3,000), developer Neil Bortz ($2,000) and produce executive Robert H. Castellini ($5,000).
Labor unions were well represented at the Luken event. Unions kicked in $11,500, with contributions from the Carpenters, Laborers, Plumbers and Pipefitters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Dan Radford, executive secretary-treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, said the AFL-CIO plans to endorse a mayoral candidate. But individual unions are free to support whomever they choose, with money and other help.
A lot of the money has already gone to Luken because he started so early, Mr. Radford said. Many people had the perception there wouldn't be a race.
Mr. Fuller could draw some attention from organized labor because of his own background. He is a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and was union shop steward at WLWT. Mr. Fuller said that he will be going to some of the same sources Mr. Luken has tapped in labor and in business to raise campaign dollars.
We're going to try, Mr. Fuller said. We're going to ask them to help so that there can be a real debate.
In the initial stage of the campaign, Mr. Fuller said, the main objective is to get some seed money to start the operation and encourage more donors down the line.
Right now, I'm just concerned with getting money for postage and printing up fliers and yard signs, Mr. Fuller said.
Obviously, the big money will come when we have to do TV and radio advertising, but we have time to organize that, Mr. Fuller said.
The problem for both men is that no one is quite sure how much it will cost to be elected mayor.
Party leaders have assumed it will be somewhere around $500,000.
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