In a little over a month, Baltimore City voters will head to the polls for the primary election, and when they get there they're going to see 18 names on the ballot for mayor.
Candidates have been working to stand out, but campaigning is costly, and some are turning to some more non-traditional ways of fundraising in order to raise more capital.
“What's unusual about the mayoral election in 2016 is we have a number of candidates who are raising significant monies but in different ways,” said John Willis, a professor of government and public policy at the University of Baltimore School of Public and International Affairs.
Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson has raised more than $245,000 through a Crowdpac, a political crowd-funding website. Venture capitalist David Warnock has spent nearly $1.5 million of his own money, and several candidates have held out-of-state fundraisers and received contributions from supporters across the country.
“Money comes from around the country for a big city race, that's not unusual in and of itself,” said Willis.
But what's turning heads is who the money is coming from. Several Silicon Valley executives including ones from Twitter and Netflix have contributed the max amount of $6,000 to Mckesson. Actress Susan Sarandon also pledged $600 to his campaign. However, Willis said it's not always the size of the check that matters the most.
“A $6,000 check from Texas or from Silicon Valley is not as valuable as a $20 check from somebody in Baltimore who's actually going to vote,” Willis said.
The latest campaign finance reports released on Tuesday show that Sheila Dixon, followed by Catherine Pugh, have the most cash on hand. Both brought in just around $300,000 in the last two months.
Even with all the money, Willis said it’s how they spend it and it’ll be the combination of money, media and message that's going to elevate a candidate from the rest of the pack.
“The person with the most money doesn't always win, it depends on what your message is and how you communicate with voters,” Willis said.
The primary election is on April 26, and early voting starts April 14.
Twenty-one people have declared their candidacy for mayor, including three Green party candidates.