With about $1.4 million raised since the May primary and $1.8 million spent throughout 2019, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Republican challenger Tim Smith have made Tuesday's election the most expensive in city history.

“It's been trending this way for a while,” said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “Given the cost of TV time and the need to be more aggressive with social media and newer forms of communication and having an elaborate ground game, it's more expensive to run a race.”

Spending over the entirety of 2019 totaled $1.8 million. Smith spent about $1.16 million, while Henry spent more than $680,000 this year. That's not just due to inflation, Downs said. It's also because campaigns have realized they need to be more professional to compete. That means local campaigns have become more adept at delivering a message and targeting an audience.

But Downs said it's not without its problems.

“One is that it's hard to be a real candidate if you don't have money or access to money,” he said. “The other is that because we can't rely on the news to be the filter it has been before, in terms of fact-checking, that job falls to us as consumers.”

As The Journal Gazette previously reported, both candidates spent the bulk of their accumulated funds on advertising.

But, somewhat predictably, where the candidates got their money varies.

Henry's single largest contribution came from the Indiana Democratic Party at $63,150 in mail and postage. Major Fort Wayne companies and firms also supported the Henry campaign, including Kelley Automotive Group ($15,000), Trier Law Office ($11,000), Carson LLP ($20,000); Faegre Baker Daniels ($15,000); Bose McKinney & Evans ($13,000); Beers Mallers Backs & Salin ($7,500); Ottenweller Contracting ($5,000); and Rothberg Logan Warsco ($7,000).

Many of the firms that donated to Henry's campaign have done business with the city at some point over the past nine years.
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