2023 election notebook: $190K raised in 2022 by Bloomington mayoral campaigns

Wednesday at noon was the deadline for political campaign committees to file their finance paperwork—the CFA-4.

Hitting that deadline were all three declared candidates for mayor of Bloomington: Don Griffin, Susan Sandberg, and Kerry Thomson.

Raising the most was Thomson with $92,828. That’s more than three times what each of the other two candidates raised.

Griffin raised $25,987 which was just a little more than Sandberg’s $25,217.

With his mid-December fundraising launch, compared to mid-summer for Thomson and Sandberg, Griffin got the latest start of the three. They’re all competing for the nomination of Democratic Party in the May 2 primary.

There’s still time for candidates to declare a candidacy for either major party’s nomination—that deadline is Feb. 3 at noon.

Griffin’s later start came only after incumbent mayor John Hamilton announced in mid-November he would not be seeking reelection to a third term.

Added to the amounts raised by the three declared candidates for mayor, Hamilton’s roughly $45,000 brings the total amount generated by Bloomington mayoral campaigns in 2022 to about $190,000.

Here’s the breakdown for all four campaign committees, based on The B Square’s analysis of the CFA-4 paperwork.

Table: Sum of All 2022 Donations
Candidate Unique Itemized Donors Sum of Itemized MEDIAN Sum of Unitemized Total
Griffin 34 $25,774 $250 $213 $25,987
Hamilton 83 $45,167 $500 $0 $45,167
Sandberg 40 $18,879 $220 $6,338 $25,217
Thomson 89 $84,427 $500 $8,401 $92,828
Grand Total 246 $174,248 $375 $14,952 $189,199


Plotting locations of donors on a map reveals that a large number of Hamilton’s donors live outside of the immediate Bloomington vicinity, in the Indianapolis area.

The same table filtered just for donors with Bloomington addresses shows that just a little more than half (55 percent) of Hamilton’s 2022 money came from people with Bloomington addresses. Measured by percentage of donors, 62 percent of Hamilton’s 2022 donors had Bloomington addresses.

Table: Sum of 2022 Donations with Bloomington Address
Candidate Unique Itemized Donors Sum of Itemized MEDIAN Sum of Unitemized Total
Griffin 28 $14,349 $250 $213 $14,562
Hamilton 52 $24,963 $363 $0 $24,963
Sandberg 40 $18,879 $220 $6,338 $25,217
Thomson 75 $69,377 $450 $8,401 $77,778
Grand Total 195 $127,568 $300 $14,952 $142,519

On the other end of the scale were Sandberg’s contributions, which all came from people who have Bloomington addresses.

About 84 percent of Thomson’s contributions came from people with Bloomington addresses—which corresponds to about 82 percent of the money.

Griffin’s percentage of donors with Bloomington addresses was relatively high (82 percent) compared to the percentage of the money from such donors (56 percent). That can be chalked up to one contribution from sister Marshella Griffin in California, who gave $10,000.

Inside Bloomington, it seems apparent that the geographic pattern of all campaign contributions trends away from neighborhoods where college students are the predominant residents, and away from lower-income areas.

When all campaign donor locations were analyzed by The B Square with the Urban Institute’s Spatial Equity Tool, renters were underrepresented among the contributors to Bloomington mayoral campaigns.

The Spatial Equity Tool also showed that low-income residents were underrepresented among donors to mayoral campaigns. That’s not a surprising surprising result, given that donors to political campaigns by definition have enough extra cash to give some of it to a candidate for office.

The Spatial Equity Tool also shows that contributors to Bloomington’s mayor campaigns in 2022 were disproportionately white, and disproportionately older than 65, compared with the general city population.

Output from the Urban Institute Racial Equity Analytics Lab’s Spatial Equity Tool, based on locations of all contributions to four Bloomington mayoral campaigns.


8 thoughts on “2023 election notebook: $190K raised in 2022 by Bloomington mayoral campaigns

  1. Oh, nix my first comment. Maybe my wifi connection delayed proper layout. Now I see clearly, the maps w candidates. Never mind. THank you.

    1. They’re probably banking on getting a nice, fat contract from the City while he’s mayor. The HT used to do a deep dive into campaign finance forms, and the last time they did it Kurt C. found that multiple big donors to Hamilton’s campaign had received decently sized consulting/study contracts with the City. People wonder why the City has so many studies and reports done every year… this is partially the reason, I suspect.

      1. “Hamilton’s campaign funds bolstered by small group”

        May 5, 2019 | Herald-Times (Bloomington, IN)
        Author/Byline: Kurt Christian

        It’s deja vu for Sanjay Patel, president of Indianapolis-based VS Engineering, Cash Canfield, executive vice presidents of the Indianapolis-based engineering firm American Structurepoint and Kevin Osburn, managing principal at Indianapolis-based urban design, landscape architecture, planning and civil engineering firm Rundell Ernstberger Associates. All three gave $1000 again and all three firms have had contracts with the city according to the H-T article.

  2. It seems to me that a city our size should not require more than $30,000 to run a campaign for mayor. Perhaps the amount raised by the candidates is inversely related to their populist agenda.

    1. I’d say this is a case of “sometimes right, sometimes not entirely so.” Hamilton, for example, raised a significant amount of money (over six figures, I believe) for each of his mayoral runs and he has not been extremely “populist” – more of a top-down decision maker. “My way or the highway,” so to speak. So when candidates like that have such a financial advantage going into the election, populist candidates still need to raise significant amounts of money to compete. Of course, no candidate is perfect, but if you look at the numbers in the article above, Thomson may have the biggest fundraising total, but she also can boast the largest number of total donors. So I do not think it’s fair to argue that she is any less populist than any other candidate in the race because while she did raise A LOT of money so far, she isn’t raising that money from relatively small amounts of individual donors, or PACs, businesses, contractors with the city, etc., for example. (Not arguing you were targeting Thomson, I just chose her as an example because she raised the most).

      1. He was unopposed in the last election, so the money raised and populism are irrelevant… the last mayoral election was largely cancelled despite the large sums raised…

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