By Jeff Parrott, South Bend Tribune
SOUTH BEND - The youngest of the city's mayoral candidates has jumped out to an early lead in campaign fundraising.
Pete Buttigieg's campaign had $50,380 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, compared to $13,377 for Mike Hamann and $8,700 for Ryan Dvorak.
The figures were listed in the first round of campaign finance reports filed this week by candidates who had started raising money before Dec. 31. Candidates will be required to file one more campaign finance report, on April 15, before the May 3 primary election, which will be a de facto general election if no Republican candidate surfaces.
Mark Dollinger, 51, a business services representative at Work One, the state's work force development agency, filed his candidacy Friday but had not formed an exploratory committee before Dec. 31. Therefore, he had no fundraising to report.
Dvorak, who formally filed his candidacy Friday, said he is not worried about bringing up the rear thus far."The other two guys have been working on this for some time now," Dvorak said. "We didn't really do anything until we heard what (Mayor Stephen Luecke's) plans were. I plan on raising as much or more than anyone else in the field, without a problem."
Dvorak, 36, said a "serious" campaign for South Bend mayor, involving television, radio and direct mail advertising, will require "several hundred thousand" dollars. He said he has raised significant money since Dec. 31, but he declined to say how much.
Dvorak's largest contribution, $2,500, came from his "Ryan Dvorak for State Representative" committee.
All seven of the individual donors Dvorak listed are from Indianapolis. They include former state Rep. Ed Mahern and people who work for architectural and engineering firms, entities that typically might hope to win city contracts in the future.
Dvorak noted those contributions were unsolicited."A lot more folks from South Bend have made contributions (since Dec. 31)," Dvorak said. "It's going real well, and we have a real professional financing operation to get there."
Hamann, a 51-year-old St. Joseph High School teacher, said he was "thrilled" with his campaign's fundraising thus far. He said he expects Buttigieg to outspend him, perhaps by as much as a 2-to-1 margin, but he doesn't think he'll need as much campaign cash as the others.
"I have deep roots here, I can exploit that," Hamann said. "We won't need a lot of cash. There will be a lot of grass roots."
Hamann, who once owned an advertising agency, said campaigns he has run for others in the past have succeeded despite being outspent.
"Money is not the most important thing," Hamann said, "given how we can communicate electronically."He said he is connecting with volunteers through his Facebook page and a new website, which
cost his campaign $6,300 to have designed, according to his campaign finance report.
Hamann said the website is now equipped with PayPal, a convenient way for supporters to give money. Hamann said he also will avoid setting up a campaign office, saving that expense.
Buttigieg, 28, was unavailable for comment Friday because he was serving in the U.S. Naval Reserves, said his campaign manager, Mike Schmuhl.
"I think these fundraising reports show our campaign is in a very strong position," Schmuhl said.Buttigieg's largest individual donation came from his campaign chairman, Bob Urbanski, who gave $10,000, along with free campaign office space in a building Urbanski owns at Main Street and Colfax Avenue.
Other large donations came from Randy Schlipp, $5,000, owner of Gertrude Street Metal Recycling, $1,000 from Ashley, Ind.-based Bit-Mat Products of Indiana, and $1,000 from The Bar at South Bend Inc., whose mailing address is the same as Mulligan's Bar & Grill, 1705 South Bend Ave.
Buttigieg lists far more small donations from individuals, in the $25 to $100 range, than the other two candidates.
"It's difficult campaigning against people who already are public officials," Schmuhl said, referring to Dvorak's role as a state representative and Hamann's seat on the County Council. "But this shows we have a very organized and professional campaign."