Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who hasn’t yet said if he’s running for re-election next year, increased his campaign spending last month, including doling out more than $50,000 on consultants, new campaign finance data show.
He continues to have significantly more cash in the bank than City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu, who have already announced they are running for mayor in 2021.
In September, Walsh’s campaign spent more than $90,000, according to state records. That amount represents an increase in expenditures compared to recent months; the campaign spent more than $29,000 in August, and more than $33,000 in both June and July. May saw the campaign spend more than $530,000, but that figure included a half-million-dollar donation to the Boston Resiliency Fund, which was set up to help those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some political observers say Walsh’s September campaign finance spending could represent a ramp-up to a re-election bid in next year’s mayoral contest.
“An uptick in his spending indicates he’s not leaving, it looks more like a preparation,” said Louis DiNatale, a Massachusetts pollster.
Ray La Raja, a political science professor at UMass Amherst, said politicians who are Walsh’s age “are always running for something.” (Walsh is 53.) La Raja said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Walsh campaign is spending money on focus groups.
“He’s trying to see how tough the race is going to be,” said La Raja.
Candice Nelson, a government professor at American University, said “you can at least assume he’s considering” a re-election bid.
“Why else would he be doing this?” Nelson asked of his campaign activity.
She added, “We’re a year out, if he’s going to run, it’s probably time to start gearing up.”
Last month, the Walsh campaign paid SKDKnickerbocker, a Washington, D.C.-based political consultant and strategic communications firm that counts Joe Biden’s campaign among its clients, $36,000. The campaign also paid more than $14,000 to LB Strategies for consulting expenses, according to records.
Walsh’s campaign raised more than $106,000 in September, significantly higher than receipts for the previous three months combined. As of the end of September, the campaign had more than $5.5 million cash on hand, significantly more flush than his two prospective opponents.
Campbell’s campaign had more than $369,000 in cash on hand after spending more than $9,000 and raising $94,000 for the month, according to state records. Campbell announced her mayoral candidacy on Sept. 24.
“I am so humbled by the enthusiasm and support we have seen in just the first week of my campaign,” said Campbell in a Monday statement. “I am looking forward to building this movement in partnership with residents across this city to transform systems to ensure Boston works for everyone.”
Wu’s campaign had $439,000 on hand at the end of September, according to state records, after spending more than $45,000 for the month, and raising $138,000. Wu announced her mayoral candidacy on Sept. 15, but news of her political intentions broke a week earlier, when Walsh said the councilor had told him she would be running for mayor.
Walsh has deflected questions about his re-election plans in recent weeks, saying he’s focused on his job. Boston voters have not kicked out an incumbent mayor in more than 70 years.