Browse By

An Account of Legislative Campaign Finances in Springfield Area Primaries…

Gomez Brown

Gomez has invested more in field than Brown… (created with handout photos)

The two surprise legislative races anchored in Springfield may yet rock political foundations in the city. However, on the fundraising front, the races are proceeding more or less typically for incumbent challenges. Both State Senator Adam Gomez and State Rep Bud Williams maintain healthy fundraising leads over their respective challengers City Councilor Malo Brown and educator Johnnie McKnight.

These challenges have attracted attention as they implicate political alliances across the city. Despite this, the race has yet to defy political gravity. Both Gomez and Williams entered the race with considerable cash and retain that advantage. While Brown had some money from his City Council account, he has not approached Gomez’s figures. McKnight started from scratch.

Williams McKnight

…while Williams and McKnight have spent relatively slowly. (WMP&I)

This is the first primary challenge Gomez has faced since his own successful challenge to fellow Democrat and now-former Senator James Welch in 2020. After redistricting, Gomez’s seat became the Hampden Senate district.

Williams holds the seat that Ray Jordan and Ben Swan once held. After Swan’s retirement, Williams secured election to the 11th Hampden House district. Williams faced opposition in the general election in 2020 and in the primary in 2022. He won easily both times.

Both seats are incredibly Democratic and the primary is tantamount to election.

Gomez and Williams began 2024 with $50,849 and $164,660 in the bank. Neither began stepping up spending and fundraising until after their primary challenges appeared. Williams raised and spent about $1,300 in January and February. Gomez spent about $1,600 more than he raised in the same period. Both legislators reported run-of-the-mill expenditures for gas, donations, and office operations.

Brown had faced opposition in his bid for reelection as the Ward 4 Councilor last year. However, he did not spend everything he raised. He entered 2024 with $8,137.

The incumbents’ fundraising shift is proximate to when Brown filed his challenge and, days later, McKnight did the same. Brown pulled papers shortly after Gomez and other Springfield legislators—though not Williams—pushed Mayor Domenic Sarno to partly back down on an effort to gut the Police Commission. They had leverage because a separate, otherwise uncontroversial bill required approval from Beacon Hill.carri

Brown is also a top aide to Williams. McKnight and Gomez have ties, but both have denied the former’s House bid was a reaction to Brown running.

The Hampden Senate district includes overs seven-eighths of Springfield and southerly precincts of Chicopee. The only areas of Springfield not in the district are parts of East Forest Park, Forest Park and 16 Acres. The 11th Hampden is only in Springfield and covers the Bay, McKnight, Old Hill and Upper Hill neighborhoods as well as a sweep of East Forest Park and Pine Point. Its periphery reaches into East Springfield, Forest Park and 16 Acres.

Springfield Senate District

Gomez’s district in goldenrod. (via malegislature.gov)

Springfield area House seats

House districts that include part of Springfield. The 11th Hampden is in pink. (via malegislature.gov)

From March 1 and to June 30, Gomez has raised $34,047. This includes funds from local fundraisers and one that leaders in the State Senate held for him at Carrie Nation Cocktail Club down Beacon Street from the State House. In this period, Gomez had 10 max-out donations ($1,000). Among those contributors were a few Boston lobbyists, former head of Baystate Health Mark Keroack and Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook. Gomez’s smaller local donations are a who’s who of progressive figures in the Springfield area as well as political establishmentarians.

In that same period, Gomez spent $13,969. This includes several big items to build up his campaign supplies and equipping volunteers. His largest single expense in this period was $2,605 to Printsource for Lawn Signs. Close behind was $2,400 to the state Democratic Party for access to Votebuilder, a voter data tool. Other campaign material expenditures were $856 to Get Set Marketing for palm cards and $957 to Zoo Printing for marketing materials.

At the end of June, he had $69,314 in his campaign account.

By contrast Brown has only raised $6,625 since the beginning of March. However, he still had several max out donations. Three of Brown’s relatives each gave his campaign $1,000. Developer Gordon Pulsifer also maxed out to him. Most of his other donations were small, although among his donors was Thomas Ashe, the director of Parks, Recreation & Building Management. A close ally of Sarno’s, Ashe had attended Brown’s kickoff. The mayor is said to be backing Brown.

Brown has spent $5,455 in this same period. His largest expenses were $2,240 at Vistaprint and $1,118 for printing at Pit Stop Shipping in Springfield. That left Brown with $3,907 as of the reporting period that ended June 30.

Massachusetts State House

Enough for a ticket to the end of the line? (WMP&I)

Representative Williams has raised $26,410 since March 1 of which $12,000 came from 12 max-out donation. These came from across the state, but Pulsifer maxed out to Williams in this period, too. Like Gomez, Williams had a fundraiser at Carrie Nation that House leadership sponsored.

However, the rep has only spent $3,950 during this time. Over a third of that, $1,423, was for materials from Printing Unlimited. At the end of June, Williams had $185,239 in the bank.

McKnight, Williams’s challenger, has raised $17,361 since opening his campaign account in March. However, $12,500 are loans he has given his campaign. Still, of those who have donated, he has received several significant donations. Notably, Gomez and former City Councilor Justin Hurst, who attended McKnight’s kickoff, have donated.

Since beginning his bid, McKnight has spent about $5,510. Of that, $2,500 went to consulting services from Fini, LLC. Other large expenditures include $731 from D3 Winning Campaign Strategies for Palm Cards and $596 from Just Yard Signs. McKnight began July with $11,720 cash on hand.

The candidates will likely continue fundraising through the primary on September 3. However, the time to make an impact may come much sooner. Early voting in Springfield begins on August 24.

Leave a Reply