Scottsdale Politics: How is the Mayoral Race Looking?

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

This year’s Scottsdale mayoral race won’t be anywhere near as wild as it was in 2020. Back then there were five competitors, including five current and past city councilmembers, vying for an open seat. This year it is much more tame, with an incumbent running against two former councilmembers.

As is often the case in politics, the campaign finance reports are the race before the race, as obviously whoever is in a dominant financial position has the best chance of succeeding. Q1 campaign finance reports were just released, so we now have our first full looking into this year’s mayoral money race, as all three candidates have now filed.

We still start with incumbent Mayor Dave Ortega, who has had the luxury of being a sitting mayor and all of the trappings therein, including a strong rolodex and big donors desiring to back a proven winner. He entered the year with over $73K cash on hand (CoH). During Q1 he raised nearly $43K, spent about $13.5K, leaving him in six figures at $102.5K CoH. A strong start to the year for the incumbent.

Mayor Ortega’s run-off challenger in 2020, Lisa Borowsky, should have significant fundraising prowess by way of name identification and a presumably strong rolodex. She got off to a late start however, with her campaign kicking off near the start of March. She started the quarter with no CoH. She raised $37K, has spent over $18K, leaving her with under $19K CoH.

The other challenger, Linda Milhaven, is in an entirely different financial situation however. She came into 2024 with $9K CoH, but knocked the cover off of the ball from a fundraising perspective last quarter at first glance, bringing in a whopping $73.5K versus a spend of only $8K, leaving her with a very strong $74.5K. However, a closer look shows that $50K of that is in the form of a loan from herself to her campaign; she may not be as willing to spend all of that money as if it came from external donors.

The power of incumbency combined with 3.5 years that have been without glaring errors will make knocking off Mayor Ortega a tall task. But at the moment, Linda Milhaven has taken the financial pole position as the strong competitor at the moment.