The three Democratic candidates vying to become Baltimore’s next City Council president have amped up their spending, according to financial reports filed Friday, as campaigns position themselves for the final push before election day.

Councilman Zeke Cohen reported particularly heavy spending in the last month, leaving him with less money in the bank than either incumbent Nick Mosby or former Councilmember Shannon Sneed for the first time this election cycle.

The second-term representative of Southeast Baltimore’s 1st District, Cohen reported $150,000 on hand in his latest filing, down significantly from the nearly $500,000 he had in the bank almost a month ago. Mosby, meanwhile, reported $155,000 in the bank after raising a modest $13,500 in April and spending tens of thousands more.

Sneed, who is relying on Baltimore’s new public financing system for grassroots campaigns, outstripped both of her opponents. The former councilmember had not filed a report by 10:30 p.m. Friday, but her campaign manager, Kevin Gillogly, said she had $177,000 in the bank as of April 26.

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Recent polling by The Baltimore Banner and Goucher College Poll suggests the council president’s race is tight. A survey conducted in early April found Cohen with a four-point edge over Mosby, while Sneed trailed the front-runner by 10 points. A potentially decisive one-third of respondents said they remained undecided or preferred some other candidate than the three options who will appear on their ballots.

Friday’s filing deadline marks the last window into campaign finances before the Democratic primary May 14. The winner faces Republican Emmanuel Digman in November’s general election, in which the Democrat will be a heavy favorite.

Cohen spending big

Cohen, who has campaigned aggressively since jumping into the race more than a year ago, was outspending both of his opponents before April. But the 1st District councilmember picked up the pace last month, reporting more than $384,000 spent from April 3 to April 26. That’s compared to just under $139,000 that he spent during the previous filing period, a longer stretch that ran from mid-January through the beginning of April.

Cohen has proved to be a formidable fundraiser in the race for Baltimore’s No. 2 elected position, banking more than $500,000 at the start of the year. The pace of his fundraising has slowed, though, and his April spending vastly outstripped the $53,000 he raised.

The bulk of Cohen’s spending in the last month has gone into advertising, primarily for a television commercial he began airing last month.

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Several large corporations and business and labor organizations gave sizable donations to Cohen this time. They included Comcast, which gave him $2,000; the Frederick, Maryland, car dealership Darcars Toyota, which gave the maximum $6,000; and the Baltimore chapter of the AFL-CIO labor union, which donated $2,500. The Service Employees International Union 32BJ and the Baltimore Teachers Union Political Action Committee also boosted him with $6,000 apiece.

Other notable contributors to Cohen included the prominent City Hall lobbyist Lisa Harris Jones, who gave $1,000. So did Nanci Caldwell of Woodside, California, a corporate director and co-founder of the leadership training organization the Center for Conscientious Leadership, while the Highlandtown pastor Mark Parker, who is running for Cohen’s 1st District seat, chipped in $50.

Another $1,000 came from the campaign account of Kathryn Shulman.

A light month for Mosby

Campaign finance reports filed by Mosby last month were riddled with errors, resulting in a messy and incomplete picture of the council president’s financial position.

The council president’s latest report, though, shows he has slightly more money in the bank than Cohen heading into the final days of the race. Mosby’s spending accelerated to $78,000 from April 3 to April 26, compared to just $13,500 raised in that period.

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The vast majority of Mosby’s April spending went toward direct mail, while the incumbent has yet to pay for TV advertising. As with his last report, Mosby stated that he has spent no money on campaign staff.

The $13,500 Mosby raised in April ran well behind Cohen’s latest haul. Among the notable donors to Mosby’s campaign were Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Baltimore and the Baltimore Fire Officers Local 964 PAC, both of which gave $2,000.

Sean Malone, the husband and lobbying partner of Harris Jones, gave Mosby the maximum $6,000 — a donation that follows a max contribution from his wife in the previous reporting period.

The council president also took $1,000 from one business called Baltimore Sports Bar. According to the contributor’s listed address, the bar is located not in Charm City, as its name might suggest, but in New Orleans.

Also Friday night, Mosby filed an amended report correcting errors from his disclosure of a month ago. That’s the second such amendment, after previous corrections prompted a letter from state election administrators flagging a series of additional inaccuracies and a “potentially excessive” contribution.

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That contribution, provided to Mosby by Baltimore Gas and Electric, was amended to $450, not the $9,281 the council president originally reported.

Sneed with a cash lead

Sneed, meanwhile, has financed her campaign through the new Baltimore City Fair Election Fund, which multiplies small donations if candidates forgo contributions larger than $150 and donations from unions, corporations and political action committees. The first citywide candidate in Baltimore to take this route, Sneed needed at least 250 contributions from city residents totaling $15,000 to qualify.

Like Cohen, Sneed went on air with a TV ad in the last month. Her latest bank balance is down from the roughly $237,000 she reported in early April.

Adam Willis covers city government for The Banner, including the impacts of the large COVID-19 stimulus package that Baltimore received from the federal government.

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