A dataset analysis of pre-primary contributions to 11 different local campaigns for Ann Arbor elected office confirms some clear patterns among the donors. The primary election will be held Aug. 5, 2014.
The dataset was compiled by The Chronicle after the Friday, July 25 deadline for filing campaign finance reports. It includes contributions to the 2014 mayoral Democratic primary campaigns for the four candidates – Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman – as well as contributions to Democratic city council primary campaigns of seven candidates in three wards: Don Adams and Sumi Kailasapathy in Ward 1; Nancy Kaplan and Kirk Westphal in Ward 2; and Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen in Ward 3.
Contributors to those 11 campaigns appear to perceive city council candidates Don Adams, Kirk Westphal and Julie Grand as aligned with mayoral candidate Christopher Taylor – as well as with each other. And judged by their donations, contributors appear to perceive city council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy, Nancy Kaplan and Bob Dascola as politically similar to each other – and to some extent politically similar to mayoral candidates Sabra Briere and Stephen Kunselman.
Those conclusions are based on the 1,278 individual contributions totaled across all the campaigns (517 for city council races and 761 for the mayoral race). The Chronicle counted at least 312 contributions that were made by people who gave to more than one of the campaigns. Those 312 contributions came from 99 different people. Not typical of the contributions were those of 22nd circuit court candidate Veronique Liem, who gave money to seven of the 11 campaigns, including all four mayoral candidates.
The Chronicle also tagged donors in the dataset as current or past members of public bodies – like the city council, the city planning commission and the Ann Arbor District Library board. That exercise revealed that every current member of the library board made at least one contribution to mayoral or council campaigns. Taylor received contributions from five of seven library board members and Briere from one. Westphal received contributions from three library board members.
Stephen Kunselman has campaigned in part based on his endorsements from four current city councilmembers – all of whom contributed money to his campaign. Ward 2 council candidate Nancy Kaplan received contributions from the same four, plus a former councilmember.
When former councilmembers are included in the count, Taylor received contributions from a total of seven. Briere received contributions from four former councilmembers. Among council candidates, Westphal received the most contributions from current and former councilmembers – a total of seven.
The Chronicle initially compiled the set of data – for three city council races and the mayor’s race – in order to generate analyses of geographic trends and distribution of amounts that have been contributed to each campaign. Those analyses are presented in previous coverage: “Council Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps” and “Mayoral Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps.”
The dataset should be viewed with the caveat that data entry was done manually from scanned documents generated by the campaigns, so they include a range of spelling variants and other minor inconsistencies. In addition, The Chronicle’s institutional knowledge about donors’ background, even when combined with online research, is imperfect. Some donors in various categories might have been missed.
Below we present some of the patterns of contributions made by donors to the campaigns.
Which Campaigns Shared Donors?
The clearest grouping of mayoral and city council candidates evident from the campaign finance data is the same as the group endorsed by Michigan Talent Agenda, which sent out a mailing funded by Ned Staebler’s Inspire Michigan political action committee: Christopher Taylor, Don Adams, Kirk Westphal and Julie Grand in the mayor’s race and Wards 1 through 3, respectively.
That grouping can be seen in the contributions of individual donors like Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board member Roger Hewitt, DDA board member and former city councilmember Joan Lowenstein, former DDA board member and former Washtenaw County commissioner Leah Gunn, and DDA outside legal counsel Jerry Lax – who all gave money to that set of four candidates. Lax also provides outside legal counsel to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and the Local Development Finance Authority. Gunn is also treasurer for Taylor’s campaign, as she’s been for other councilmembers in the past – including outgoing councilmember Margie Teall and former councilmember Marcia Higgins, both representing Ward 4.
The overall numbers bear out the Taylor-Adams-Westphal-Grand grouping. Ward 1 candidate Don Adams reported 31 contributions. Of 11 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Adams’ Ward 1 campaign, 10 of them also gave to Westphal’s Ward 2 campaign and 8 of them also gave to Taylor’s mayoral campaign.
Ward 2 candidate Kirk Westphal reported 95 contributions. Of 35 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Westphal’s Ward 2 campaign, 29 of them also gave to Taylor’s campaign and 12 of them also gave to Grand’s Ward 3 campaign.
Ward 3 candidate Julie Grand reported 45 contributions. Of 16 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Grand’s Ward 3 campaign, 15 also gave to Taylor’s mayoral campaign and 12 also gave to Westphal’s campaign.
Opponents of the Taylor-Adams-Westphal-Grand grouping form a discernible group of their own, even if it’s somewhat less clear, particularly in the mayoral slot. Based on contributions to council campaigns, supporters of the Kailasapathy-Kaplan-Dascola group show an intersection of support for Kunselman and Briere as mayor.
The numerical breakdown is as follows. Ward 1 incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy reported 51 contributions. Of 35 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Kailasapathy’s Ward 1 campaign, 27 also gave to Kaplan’s Ward 2 campaign, 18 gave to Dascola’s Ward 3 campaign, 13 gave to Briere’s mayoral campaign and 13 gave to Kunselman’s campaign.
Ward 2 candidate Nancy Kaplan reported 132 contributions. Of 42 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Kaplan’s Ward 2 campaign, 27 also gave to Kailasapathy’s campaign, 18 gave to Kunselman’s mayoral campaign and 14 gave to Briere’s mayoral campaign.
Ward 3 candidate Bob Dascola reported 75 contributions. Of 28 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Dascola’s Ward 3 campaign, 22 also gave to Kaplan’s campaign; and 18 also gave to Sumi Kailasapathy’s Ward 1 campaign. The Chronicle counted only two multiple-candidate donors among McMullen’s Ward 3 campaign contributions.
Even if the council campaign contributions indicated indirectly that there could be an intersection of support for Kunselman and Briere, the mayoral contributions don’t provide much direct support for that in the form of shared donors by the two.
Mayoral candidate Stephen Kunselman reported 59 contributions. Of the 23 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Kunselman’s mayoral campaign, just 4 gave to Briere’s mayoral campaign.
Christopher Taylor and Sabra Briere reported 365 and 204 contributions for their respective mayoral campaigns. Of the 42 multiple-candidate donors to Taylor’s mayoral campaign and the 30 multiple donors to Briere’s campaign, they shared 9 donors in common. Those common donors included executive director of the Main Street Area Association Maura Thompson, park advisory commissioner David Santacroce, local developer Peter Allen, and planning commissioner Ken Clein.
Mayoral candidate Sally Petersen reported 133 contributions. Of 8 multiple-candidate donors who gave to Petersen’s mayoral campaign, 4 also gave to Kaplan’s Ward 2 campaign, and 4 also gave to Taylor’s mayoral campaign.
Embedded below is a shared Google spreadsheet with a comprehensive breakdown of multiple-candidate donors, including the amounts donated to each candidate.
Public Officials Past and Present
In the dataset of multiple-candidate donors, many of the names are recognizable as present or past public officials. The embedded spreadsheet above includes tabs with breakdowns of contributions by several different public bodies, including the Ann Arbor District Library board and the city council. For readers who’d like to review the data on their own, here’s a link to the full-sized spreadsheet.
Ann Arbor District Library Board
All of the Ann Arbor District Library board’s seven members made contributions to at least one of the city campaigns. That includes AADL board member Nancy Kaplan, who gave money to Sumi Kailasapathy’s Ward 1 city council campaign in addition to Kaplan’s own Ward 2 campaign.
Mayoral candidate Christopher Taylor received contributions from five of the seven board members: Ed Surovell, Jan Barney Newman, Margaret Leary, Prudence Rosenthal and Rebecca Head. Briere received a contribution from Barbara Murphy. Among council candidates, Westphal received contributions to his Ward 2 campaign from three AADL board members: Jan Barney Newman, Margaret Leary, Rebecca Head.
Bob Dascola received contributions from Kaplan and from former AADL board member David Cahill, who is Briere’s spouse and campaign treasurer.
Ann Arbor City Council
Stephen Kunselman has campaigned in part based on his endorsements from four of the seven current city councilmembers who are not running for mayor: Sumi Kailasapathy, Jane Lumm, Jack Eaton and Mike Anglin. All four also contributed money to his campaign: a total of $675. Ward 2 council candidate Nancy Kaplan received contributions from the same four, as well as from Leslie Morris, who served on the council in the late 1970s and early 1980s – for a total of $925.
When former councilmembers are included in the count, mayoral candidate Christopher Taylor received contributions from a total of seven: Carsten Hohnke, Jean Carlberg, Joan Lowenstein, Marcia Higgins, Margie Teall, Stephen Rapundalo and Tony Derezinski. Their contributions totaled $1,300.
Briere received contributions from four former councilmembers: David DeVarti, Leslie Morris, Robert Faber, and Susan Greenberg. Their contributions totaled $725.
Among council candidates, Westphal received the most contributions from current and former councilmembers – a total of seven: Christopher Taylor, Jean Carlberg, Joan Lowenstein, John Hieftje, Leigh Greden, Stephen Rapundalo and Tony Derezinski. Those contributions came to $1,050.
For his Ward 1 campaign, Adams received contributions from mayor John Hieftje and Christopher Taylor, as well as former city councilmember Joan Lowenstein.
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