The C.R.E.A.M. of the Mayor’s Race

In a race where cash rules everything, the year-end campaign finance reports show who’s got the money, and who needs to have a fish fry immediately.

Photo by maitree rimthong

You wouldn’t know it because it still looks so young, but hip-hop is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.

Right now, I’m watching a documentary on PBS called “Fight The Power: How Hip-Hop Changed The World”, which tells the story of this musical genre, the times that inspired it, and its impact on the world. It’s hosted by hip-hop pioneer Chuck D of the group Public Enemy, and so far, I’m enjoying it.

One of my favorite hip-hop groups is the WuTang Clan. For those of you who don’t know who the Wu are, they’re a rather large group of guys from Staten Island, New York who based a lot of their music on the karate movies they watched on weekends.

Now if their name sounds familiar, it’s because their album, “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”, was at one time owned by notorious “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. Because there was only one copy of “Once Upon A Time…”, the man with the world’s most punchable face paid millions for it.

But because I cover politics, the Wu classic I remember the most — so much, in fact, that it’s one of my ringtones — is C.R.E.A.M, from the Wu’s first album, “Enter The 36 Chambers.”

C.R.E.A.M. is short for Cash Rules Everything Around Me, and I can think of no place where that fits more than when people are about to go into petition time to begin a mayor’s race.

That’s because to do things like air commercials, get an apparatus together that will ensure that your petitions are correct, and make sure you have what you need to campaign, cash is king.

The fundraising numbers for the end of 2022 were released earlier this week, and they didn’t surprise me all that much. Former Councilmember Allan Domb led the pack with $5 million, most of which was his own money. The closest to him were his former City Council colleague Helen Gym and former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, both of whom had raised over $1 million.

Much of the rest of the pack — businessman Jeff Brown, former Councilmembers Cherelle Parker, Maria Quinones Sanchez, and Derek Green — had funds in the six figures, with Quinones Sanchez leading this pack because she hadn’t really spent much.
And then there’s State Rep. Amen Brown, who has less than $4,000 to play with. I guess the PAC that’s backing his run hasn’t started contributing to his campaign yet.

Now, this was just what these folks had to work with at the end of last year. Chances are really, really good that they have more on hand by now because a lot of them have had fundraisers since December…or at least that’s what my inbox indicates.

These folks forget that the reason they have my email address is because I’m a reporter. They also forget that reporters don’t make the kind of money that you need to catch up to a millionaire on the campaign finance trail.

And that’s even with the city’s rule that allows people to donate twice the amount they would normally be allowed to because folks like Domb and Brown put so much of their own money into their campaigns that the so-called “Millionaire’s Exemption” has kicked in.

But while the money raised was interesting, so was some of what it was spent on. Rhynhart got an endorsement from former Mayor John Street, but he’s also listed as a $22,000 expenditure on her campaign finance report.

(“CREAM, get the money!” indeed…)

In America’s poorest big city, contributing to campaigns isn’t something everyone can do. So as part of what Hall Monitor is going to be doing for Lenfest’s Every Voice, Every Vote campaign is focus on the money, where it comes from, and especially how it’s spent.

Because personally, I want to know who answers when these candidates say, “Dolla, Dolla, bill, y’all!”

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