OAKLAND -- Nearly $600,000 poured into campaign coffers of Oakland mayoral candidates last year, with the incumbent, Jean Quan, trailing in the money chase as Election Day approaches.

Port Commissioner Bryan Parker, a political neophyte, raised the most money last year, $175,082, according to reports filed this week with the city clerk.

He was followed by San Francisco State Professor Joe Tuman, who raised $145,350; Quan, who raised $129,494; and Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, who raised $123,157. Schaaf only began fundraising in December; Tuman began in July. Former school board member Dan Siegel entered the race in January after the reporting period for campaign donations had already ended.

While the major candidates appeared on track to hit the $405,000 campaign spending cap, veteran political consultant Larry Tramutola said it is rare for an incumbent not to be in a more dominant position.

"It shows there is a lot of money out there from people who would love to beat Quan," he said. "And it's not just fat cats."

Quan's campaign co-chairman, Michael Colbruno said the mayor's fundraising effort will go into high gear once she formally announces her re-election bid. "We're not in catch-up mode," he said. "We're in being-mayor mode right now."

The amount of money raised last year dwarfs that raised in the year preceding the 2010 election when only Quan and former state Sen. Don Perata actively sought contributions.

With a vulnerable incumbent, there is an added urgency for the challengers prove their viability by raising cash, Tramutola said.

"No one wants to be wants to be viewed as not credible," he said. "That is the worst thing."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435. Follow him at Twitter.com/Matthew_Artz.