Is Tish James For Real? [Update]

Brooklyn City Councilwoman Letitia James has been quietly laying the groundwork for a run for public advocate for some time now, and in many respects, has a pretty good shot at winning. The field to replace Bill de Blasio (assuming he runs for mayor) is pretty small at this point, and the two other names mentioned as possible contenders–current de Blasio aide Reshma Saujani and State Senator Daniel Squadron–are both young and with less time in public life than Ms. James. Plus, Ms. James is well-liked by her peers and has strong ties  to labor.

But one thing appears to be a serious problem for her going forward:  her anemic fundraising.

According to the most recent report filed with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, Ms. James has under $50,000 in the bank for 2013.  Over the summer we reported that she was still hoping to retire old campaign debts from her 2009 Council run, in which she ran mostly unopposed. By comparison, Mr. Squadron raised $133,000 since October for a possible PA run, and Ms. Saujani raised over $1 million in her losing Congressional bid to Carolyn Maloney last year.

Money isn’t everything of course, and the city’s generous matching program makes it even less valuable. But it counts for something, and Ms. James may need to be counting more of it to be viable next year.


After posting, Councilmember James called us in between meeting with community groups in Coney Island and donors in Manhattan to say that she didn’t think fundraising would be a problem.

“The excitement on the ground is palatable. It is early, and the money will come. I am confident of that.”

She added that in the most recent fundraising period, she was concentrating on retiring her campaign debts from 2009 in addition to running for 2013, and said she raised close to $90,000 when both accounts were factored. Ms. James however declined to officially declare herself a candidate, noting, “There isn’t an opening yet.”

  Is Tish James For Real? [Update]