CHIPPING IN: A look at campaign finance in the mayoral race

Voters+are+within+a+week+from+selecting+Wichita%E2%80%99s+mayor+for+the+next+four+years.+Their+choices+are%2C+left+to+right%3A+State+Rep.%0ABrandon+Whipple%2C+write-in+candidate+Lyndon+Wells+and+incumbent+Jeff+Longwell.
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CHIPPING IN: A look at campaign finance in the mayoral race

Voters are within a week from selecting Wichita’s mayor for the next four years. Their choices are, left to right: State Rep.
Brandon Whipple, write-in candidate Lyndon Wells and incumbent Jeff Longwell.

Voters are within a week from selecting Wichita’s mayor for the next four years. Their choices are, left to right: State Rep. Brandon Whipple, write-in candidate Lyndon Wells and incumbent Jeff Longwell.

DANIEL CAUDILL AND KHANH NGUYEN/THE SUNFLOWER

Voters are within a week from selecting Wichita’s mayor for the next four years. Their choices are, left to right: State Rep. Brandon Whipple, write-in candidate Lyndon Wells and incumbent Jeff Longwell.

DANIEL CAUDILL AND KHANH NGUYEN/THE SUNFLOWER

DANIEL CAUDILL AND KHANH NGUYEN/THE SUNFLOWER

Voters are within a week from selecting Wichita’s mayor for the next four years. Their choices are, left to right: State Rep. Brandon Whipple, write-in candidate Lyndon Wells and incumbent Jeff Longwell.

While it’s likely that less than a quarter of Wichita’s voters will elect the city’s next leader on Nov. 5, an even smaller percent has supported either candidate through the ultimate form of speech — money.

Mayor Jeff Longwell and challenger Brandon Whipple, a longtime state representative, filed new campaign finance forms on Monday — detailing a race that has grown closer in numbers since the last filing in July. The recent forms cover donations from July 26 to Oct. 24.

Longwell raised a total of $73,800 in itemized contributions during the time period, while Whipple earned $57,586.72. That’s a smaller advantage for Longwell compared to July filings, in which Longwell outraised Whipple more than three-to-one.

“We think the funding has a direct correlation to the support that we’ve received in the community,” Longwell said. “People like the direction the city is going in, and they typically fund the candidates accordingly.”

Former banker Lyndon Wells, who finished third in the Aug. 6 primary, filed forms that show an anticipated surge in donations after he announced his write-in candidacy last month. He raised $28,150.00 in contributions.

Wells could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

While Whipple’s report lists 279 itemized contributions — more than any other candidate — the longtime state legislator has the lowest average donation at $206.40. Subtract the $14,000 that Whipple and his wife, Chelsea, loaned to the campaign, and that average falls to $157.92.

“Our campaign is about grassroots, and we’re showing that we can be competitive without having to bow down to the big-money interest groups,” Whipple said. “What that does is, when we win this, I won’t be beholden to any kingmaker.”

“Our message has been that we are going to bring city government back to the people.”

The bulk of Whipple’s campaigns come from individual donors, receiving only $5,500 from groups like political action committees (PACs) and limited liability corporations (LLCs). That’s in contrast with the $23,750 Longwell raised from groups — primarily in the sales, auto and construction industries.

With 175 contributions, Longwell’s average donation is nearly twice Whipple’s, at $421.71. The maximum contribution from an individual donor is $500 in the general election.

Despite raising the least amount of money in the last cycle, Wells had the highest average contribution of $477.12. That’s across 59 contributions, including $3,500 that Wells loaned himself after the primary.

Longwell, the only candidate who did not loan to his campaign in the last contribution period, said his lack of loans was a benefit.

“When you subtract the amount of money that some candidates have loaned their campaign, they’ve [fallen] way behind in funding.”

To view the full expenditures report filed Monday, visit www.sedgwickcounty.org/elections/reports.