METHUEN — Mayoral candidate Stephen Zanni hit the home stretch before Tuesday's preliminary election having spent more campaign cash than all three of his opponents combined.
Zanni raised $20,635 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 2 and spent just over $12,000. Candidates Jack Cronin, Al DiNuccio and Kenneth Willette, Jr., spent just over $11,500 combined during that same period, according to pre-preliminary campaign finance reports filed this week.
Preliminary election voters will narrow the four-candidate field down to two finalists, who then must file a second campaign spending report eight days before the Nov. 8 general election.
Among Zanni's chief expenses were printed campaign materials.
He spent over $8,000 at Vogel Printing in Lawrence and Connolly Printing in Woburn on mailers, fundraiser invitations, bumper stickers, signs and business cards.
To date, Zanni said he has spent $10,000 on three mailers, the last of which will be sent to all registered voters in the city later this week.
"That was the big focus — getting the message out to voters," said Zanni.
DiNuccio said he will counter later this week with a city-wide mailer of his own.
"He's spending a lot per vote," DiNuccio said of Zanni. "Our campaign's based on grassroots. Grassroots doesn't cost as much as a Zanni campaign, trying to buy an election."
DiNuccio raised $7,604 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 2 and spent $4,949. He ended the period with a balance of $2,740.22 in his campaign fund.
"We'll spend every single penny we have for the preliminary," said DiNuccio.
DiNuccio's biggest expense was $3,876 to cater a fundraiser event Aug. 25. He also spent $323 at Vogel Printing for donation envelopes and $750 on rent for his Pelham Street campaign headquarters. His outstanding liabilities include $967 for campaign signs and $822 for rent.
Willette ended the reporting period with a $937.71 deficit, which he said will be covered using money he raised at a recent fundraiser dinner.