While all eyes seem to be on the bare-knuckles cage match that the national media keeps insisting should be called the “Republican presidential primary,” there’s actually a Republican primary battle for a national office taking place around here, too.
You might have heard about it: It’s for the 12th District U.S. Congressional seat. Three men and one woman (so far) are seeking the Republican nomination for the opportunity to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
While Newt and Mitt and the rest of the World Wrestling Federation were brawling in Florida, the Republicans running for the 12th District seat were dueling with press releases touting their fundraising.
Federal Elections Commission reports are due next week, see, and candidates typically try to get out front with them to brag if the money is rolling in, or to attempt to refocus the conversation if it isn’t. Likewise, if a candidate has a poll taken and he or she doesn’t look so good, we never hear about it; but if they can claim to be in the theoretical lead, we get a press release.
Exhibit A is Lee Anderson. In the battle of the press releases this past week, Anderson focused on the results of a poll by John McLaughlin that shows him “with a significant 10-point lead over his closest competitor.”
Actually, the leading candidate is “undecided,” as acknowledged in essence when the pollster points out that the results are “early in the race.” But of those who have a preference, the poll says Anderson gets 20 percent, Rick Allen has 10 percent, Maria Sheffield 9 percent and Wright McLeod 8 percent.
The money race juggles that order. Anderson’s camp says his FEC report will show he’s raised just more than $138,000 thus far from 241 donors.
Allent, the other native Columbia Countian in the race, has raked in the most money. His campaign says his FEC report will reflect more than $270,000 in donations from 220 donors.
Augusta attorney Wright McCleod, meanwhile, says he’s raised just more than $130,000. We don’t yet know how much Sheffield has raised, but considering she’s sent out probably double the number of press releases as all the other candidates combined, she certainly can be expected to announce her receipts any day now. (Her FEC report isn’t yet posted.)
If she’s raised about the same amount as the other Republicans, the four of them together still won’t have collected as much as Barrow already has banked for the race – and unlike all the Republicans, he doesn’t have to spend any of it running in a primary.
Too bad the four of them can’t get together, pick a candidate from among them, pool their money and focus on winning next November. Instead, they’ll first have to do what the Republican presidential candidates are doing: try to defeat each other up while their future Democratic opponent sits cheering in a ringside seat.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/