by Chris Potter
As noted here a short time ago, an early surprise in today's campaign-finance reporting period is that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl donated $10,000 to the mayoral bid of state Rep. Jake Wheatley.
And guess what? "We were just as surprised as anybody," says Wheatley spokesman Daren Berringer.
Berringer noted that the money came in "just the last week" (May 3, to be precise), and says that Wheatley had no advance notice that a check was on the way. "It's not like any of us are talking to [Ravenstahl]," Berringer says.
The Wheatley camp, like the other campaigns, will be filing its own financial report today. Berringer says that Ravenstahl's contribution will be one of the largest the campaign has gotten, "though I'm not sure it will be THE largest one or not. [Philadelphia state Rep. Dwight Evans] may have given a similar amount."
But if such a contribution looms large for Wheatley's campaign, Berringer says, in the scope of what the other campaigns will be reporting, "this is going to be miniscule." And indeed, Wagner's team has already reported larger donations.
But doesn't this suggest that Ravenstahl is hoping that Wheatley, who has criticized Peduto more often than Wagner out on the campaign trail, will be a cudgel against Peduto? Ravenstahl has also been funding attack ads through a third-party committee -- ads whose populist, anti-elitist message, arguably dovetails with Wheatley's own emphasis on fighting poverty. And one could argue that, if Wagner is the choice of the political establishment, Wheatley may split the opposition, especially among black voters.
"You'd have to talk to the mayor" about Ravenstahl's motives, says Berringer. But in any case the money "is not going to change anything we say or do. We're running our campaign, and he hasn't given us any advice about what to do with the [contribution]."
In fact, says Berringer, "If he's got more money, send it!"