Detroit — Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano relaunched his campaign fundraising efforts last year, but has little to show for it, finance reports filed Friday show.
After years of scandals halted a once mighty fundraising machine, Ficano’s campaign last year collected $116,665 in donations during at least four fundraisers. But his committee lost money, spending nearly $127,000, the records show.
Ficano hasn’t announced if he’ll seek a fourth four-year term. He still has a larger war chest than other announced candidates in the Democratic primary, but it’s dwindling: falling to $400,000 between his PAC and campaign committee now from $600,000 in 2012, records show.
And Westland Mayor William Wild is closing the gap, raising $240,924 since November, records show. Wild has placed five billboards near freeways and said he plans to raise at least $1.5 million.
“Everyone has made it clear they’re looking for a change,” Wild said. “I’m prepared to raise $2 million if need be.”
He has about twice as much money on hand as the two other likely announced candidates: state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township, and County Commissioner Kevin McNamara, D-Belleville. Cavanagh — who hasn’t yet officially announced he’s running — has $73,480. McNamara has about $47,000.
“This is a $2 million race, but the only one who needs to raise $2 million is Bob Ficano,” McNamara said.
“Polls tell us Bob Ficano is the issue. We’re not going to have a lot of quality, in-depth debate on the issues until Bob Ficano gets out of the race.”
Ficano’s campaign committee released a statement saying its fundraising “positively reflect(s) the continued strengths of the CEO.”
Ficano has faced a host of scandals since 2011. The FBI raided county offices. A grand jury has investigated severances, pensions and a host of county deals. Three former aides have pleaded guilty to bribes and obstruction of justice. A failed jail project cost taxpayers $160 million. Talk of an emergency manager is growing.
Polls in the past few months have shown Ficano finishing last.
And yet, he has given all indications he is running for re-election, said McNamara and political consultant Steve Hood. Ficano is appearing more frequently at community events and trying to raise money — without much success, Hood said.
“He’s running, but (county) vendors are taking a dive on him,” said Hood, a former Ficano staffer who is not working for any candidates. “Incumbents can always rely on vendors but they are staying away” because of the scandals.
The filing deadline for the campaign is April 22. In years past, incumbents have sought an edge by flooding candidates on the ballot to divide the field, Hood said. That’s again a likely scenario, since the filing fee is only $100.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Wild said. “This is a wide-open race.”