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Candidates, cash piling up in mayoral race

More than $500,000 raised by just 4 candidates

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SAN ANTONIO – The 2015 race for San Antonio mayor is shaping up to be one of the more expensive in recent memory.

"A city-wide race is very expensive. It's a million-dollar campaign for sure," said Christian Archer, a local political consultant who steered former mayors Phil Hardberger and Julian Castro to victory in mayoral elections.

According to the most recent financial data, four candidates -- Leticia Van de Putte ($152,179), Mike Villarreal ($201,454), Ivy Taylor ($65,000), Tommy Adkisson ($150,000), Paul Martinez ($3,846) and Cynthia Brehm ($500) -- have combined to raise more than $500,000. That number does not include the six other candidates in the race.

Archer said having the most money is an advantage, but spending it wisely is what is most important.

"You've got to analyze your budget and how you're doing on fundraising to really make sure that in the last 30-45 days that's when you've got to be building your momentum," he said. "The person with the most money 45 days out is going to have a huge advantage."

Candidates will likely use their war chests to fund television and radio ad campaigns, mailers, and volunteers to block-walk and knock on doors. Archer said having so much money in the race could also impact voter turnout.

"Part of the low turnout is because people aren't informed, and unfortunately the best way to get informed is 30-second television ads," he said.

Candidates will continue to compile cash, but Trinity University Political Science Professor David Crockett said money may not be what wins the race.

"At some point, the more money you spend, the less its going to get you in terms of votes, and money will be more important in terms of perhaps mobilizing voters or being able to staff an organization to mobilize voters," said Crockett.

Crockett said the candidate with the biggest stockpile will have more opportunities to spread their message, but he believes blanketing their airwaves won't make much of a difference after the first few weeks when voters start paying attention.

"I'm not convinced that having a large sum of money is going to grossly advantage on person over the other. You have to have a minimum threshold to be competitive, beyond that though I think it's just a question of giving you flexibility to do more things, but it doesn't necessarily tremendously advantage you," he said. "It would not surprise me if  when we're done with this, the person who raised the most money didn't actually win."

The mayoral election is scheduled for May 9.