Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s fundraising wasn’t able to keep pace with Republican challenger Jefferson Shreve’s mostly self-funded $14.5 million campaign war chest, reports filed today show.
But campaign spending on both sides will make this the most expensive mayoral race in Indianapolis history by far.
Hogsett raised nearly $2.6 million this year, bringing his total amount of money available for this election cycle to $6.16 million. Hogsett’s campaign said the money he raised this year was record-setting, exceeding his 2019 campaign.
Shreve’s campaign account was bolstered by his $10.5 million personal loan to his campaign. The successful Republican businessman so far has put a total of $13.5 million in loans and cash into the campaign since he entered the race in February. He has self-funded 93%, or all but $930,000, of the $14.45 million reported.
Shreve’s wealth stems partially from the company he founded, Storage Express, which he sold last year for $590 million.
It remains to be seen whether his campaign spending can overcome Hogsett’s advantages as an incumbent in Democrat-dominated Indianapolis. Democrats currently hold all county-elected offices in Marion County and enjoy a supermajority on the City-County Council.
The campaign spending dwarfs any previous Indianapolis mayoral campaign and puts it more in the realm of less-competitive races for U.S. Senate.
Last year, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young raised $14.5 million to handily defeat Democrat Tom McDermott, who had raised just $1.1 million. In the competitive 2018 race between Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Democrat Joe Donnelly, outside donations and Braun’s personal wealth contributed to a hefty total of nearly $40 million raised.
The Shreve campaign ended the reporting period with $3.1 million cash on hand as of Oct. 13. The Hogsett campaign reported $1.5 million. The election is Nov. 7, and early voting currently is underway.
Who donated the most to the campaigns?
Some of Hogsett’s largest donations came from members of the Simon family, which founded Simon Property Group. It owns the largest number of shopping malls in the United States.
His largest came from Deborah Simon, a philanthropist and daughter of Simon Property co-founder Mel Simon. She gave the campaign $100,000.
Hogsett also received $50,000 contributions from Herb Simon, co-founder of Simon Property Group and owner of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, and Cindy Simon Skjodt, sister to Deborah Simon. Rachel Simon, daughter of Herb Simon, contributed $11,000.
Herb Simon also gave $5,000 to Shreve.
Michael J. Browning, founder of Browning Real Estate Partners, also gave the campaign $50,000.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay contributed $25,000 to the Hogsett campaign. Tied at that amount is Vikram Rajadhyaksha, the Ohio-based CEO of Indianapolis-based construction and engineering consultant DLZ Corporation.
Hogsett also received big bucks from political action committees. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC gave $80,000, while three other unions gave $50,000 each.
Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili’s newly-established PAC, the Voice of the People PAC, contributed $30,000 to Hogsett. Osili also gave $15,000 from his council campaign committee.
Aside from himself, Shreve’s biggest donor was John Lechleiter, a former CEO of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. He gave $129,000.
Al Hubbard, a Republican mega-donor and former Bush administration official, gave Shreve $15,000 in cash and $2,688 in in-kind food and beverage donations.
Lorna Mohr, wife of Andy Mohr, gave Shreve $10,000. Andy Mohr is the owner of Andy Mohr Automotive Group.
Danny Huston, owner of carnival ride conglomerate North American Fairs LLC, also gave Shreve $10,000.
Shreve’s campaign also received $25,000 from REI Real Estate Services LLC, $10,000 from Tarbert Properties, and $5,000 from Broad Ripple-based Barratt Holdings LLC.
The Indiana Republican State Committee contributed $11,487 in-kind for postage.
How the campaign cash was spent
In this fundraising period, Shreve spent $9.9 million. About $7.4 million of that went towards media buys through Omaha, Nebraska-based Bullhorn Communications. Shreve also paid the company nearly $300,000 for production and additional expenses for consulting services, travel and signage.
The second-highest expenditure for Shreve was in polling and research. The campaign spent $417,145 on services from Bellwether Research and Public Opinion Strategies.
Shreve’s campaign spent at least $185,466 on mailers and literature. Franklin-based Midwest Communications and Minnesota-based Republican firm The Voyageur Company were the campaign’s chosen vendors.
Hogsett spent nearly $4.5 million. Like Shreve’s, the bulk of Hogsett’s funds went toward advertising.
Hogsett spent $3.1 million on advertising through Denver-based Bluewest Media, an additional $279,079 to produce ads with Putnam Partners, and $288,272 on digital ads through D.C.-based agency DSPolitical.
The campaign also spent $130,500 on research through well-known Democratic consulting firm Global Strategy Group and Point Loma Strategic Research.