charlotte mayoral race 2017
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, left, Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and NC state senator Joel Ford participate in a mayoral debate on Wednesday. Roberts had nearly three times as much money as her nearest Democratic opponent, new reports show. Jeff Siner

By Jim Morrill, The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts entered the home stretch of her primary campaign with nearly three times as much money as her nearest Democratic opponent.

And Republican Kenny Smith, the likely Republican candidate, had almost three times as much in the bank as Roberts.

New finance reports show Roberts with more than $115,000 on hand at the end of August. Vi Lyles, the mayor pro tem, had just over $43,000. And state Sen. Joel Ford had about $15,000.

Roberts’ had raised a total of $468,000, far more than either Democratic rival. That’s allowed her to be on TV consistently since Aug. 21. She’s been able to reserve air time through Tuesday’s election.

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Neither of the other Democratic candidates has run a TV ad.

The new reports cover campaign fundraising and spending in August. Roberts has raised the most money from the start.

More than others, she has tapped into Charlotte’s immigrant community. Donors include Hilda Gurdian, publisher La Noticia, and Astrid Chirinos, chief executive of the Latin American Economic Development Corp.

Roberts, who became the face of the anti-discrimination ordinance that prompted House Bill 2, also got contributions from the LGBT community.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization, gave her $5,161. Other donors included furniture executive Mitchell Gold, a strong supporter of LGBT rights, and Christian Cano, an openly gay congressional candidate.

Ford’s August donors included two political action committees: The N.C. Homebuilders PAC gave $2,000 and the N.C. Realtors PAC, $5,200.

He also got contributions from fellow Democratic Sens. Paul Lowe of Winston-Salem and Don Davis of Snow Hill. Republican Reps. John Fraley of Mooresville and Dana Bumgardner of Gastonia also donated.

Lyles got help from traditional Democratic donors such as Mary Lou Babb and Mark Erwin as well as former U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins. Democratic state Rep. Kelly Alexander also contributed.

Smith, a city council member who faces two little-known Republicans in the primary, had $322,714 on hand at the end of August.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059@jimmorrill

This article was originally published by The Charlotte Observer.

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