The Pittsburgh mayoral campaigns spent some huge cash on adverts and paid a whole bunch of hundreds to non-state company – PublicSource

Mayor Bill Peduto and Rep. Ed Gainey, the top two candidates for Pittsburgh mayor in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, raised more than $ 1.2 million between January 1 and May 3 this year. Campaign financial reports show that Peduto focused spending on television advertising, while Gainey focused on mailers, signs, and other advertising.

The total spending roughly reflects the donation amounts for this campaign cycle: the reigning Peduto outperformed the challenger Gainey with $ 900,000 to $ 306,000 and Peduto with $ 878,142 to 241,954.

The two campaigns used different strategies for deploying campaign money over the past five months. The Peduto campaign spent nearly $ 340,000 on advertising – about 39% of all print, digital, and television advertising that the city covers. More than $ 300,000 of that went to television advertising. The Gainey campaign spent more than $ 55,000 sending mail to voters, more than 22% of its total spend.

In the Peduto campaign, their report listed multiple expenses as “research” totaling $ 109,224. More than $ 102,000 of that sum went to a Washington, DC-based company called Lake Research Partners, which describes itself as a “national public opinion and policy research firm.”


The Gainey campaign paid $ 21,000 to another DC-based company, Greenburg Quinlan Rosner, which is focused on helping progressive candidates.

Despite the huge differences in total spend, the two campaigns spent almost the same amount on mail. The Gainey campaign spent $ 55,281, or 18.65% of their total, and the Peduto campaign spent $ 57,045, or just 6.49% of their total.

The Peduto campaign had a head start. It started at more than $ 180,000 as of 2020, while the Gainey campaign was only $ 2,600 before that year. Unsurprisingly, the Peduto campaign outperformed the Gainey campaign by more than five to one in January.

The Gainey campaign didn’t spend more than $ 10,000 in two weeks through early March, and the Peduto campaign shifted into high gear in late March and April. The mayor’s campaign spent more than $ 262,000 in the first half of April alone.

The money spent on each candidate’s official campaign does not include all expenses related to that race. Political Action Committees (PACs) independently spend significant sums on both candidates.

More than $ 1 million went into Pittsburgh’s mayor race. Where did that come from?

Good Jobs Pittsburgh, a union-backed PAC that supports Peduto, paid $ 134,905 to a Brooklyn-based political consultancy. Pittsburgh Justice for All, a PAC for Gainey largely funded by healthcare unions, has raised more than $ 400,000 since Jan. 1 and reported a payment of nearly $ 50,000 to a DC-based communications company.

The only vendor that benefited the most from the Peduto campaign was Buying Time, LLC, a television advertising buying company. Peduto spent more than $ 315,000 on television advertising through the company. Gainey’s largest bill was for more than $ 90,000 to Berlin Rosen, a New York-based communications company that handled much of the campaign’s printing, mailing, and advertising efforts.

The Peduto campaign spent more than $ 1,300 on groceries. The most frequent stop was Cappy’s Cafe in Shadyside, but the largest single bill was an order for $ 523 from Jimmy John’s. The Gainey team spent just $ 176 on food and supported Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin ‘Donuts, and Starbucks.

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Charlie Wolfson is the local government reporter for PublicSource. He can be reached at or on Twitter @chwolfson.

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