Most of the campaign money around here these days is flowing to either the candidates for the 12th District congressional seat, or to those running for Richmond County sheriff.
Of course, some of it comes from the candidates themselves. Lee Anderson’s campaign sent out a notice Monday, claiming that the upcoming financial reports will show him in the money lead for the congressional race with $255,000 cash on hand. But then it points out that $178,000 of that is money Anderson loaned to his campaign.
That’s similar to the report a few weeks ago from one of his fellow Republican contenders, Maria Sheffield, who celebrated having more than $100,000 cash on hand – but didn’t mention almost all of it came from money she’d loaned the campaign.
But not all the contributions are coming from the candidates themselves, or going to the highest-profile races. Plenty of money is flowing into local campaign coffers, too, as noted in the latest finance reports.
Heading the list is the Georgia House District 121 race between Republicans Barry Fleming and Mike Popplewell.
Fleming had a huge head start in the race. When he left the legislature in 2008 to run against Paul Broun for Congress, his war chest from his previous time in the state House stayed in the bank. He’s running for the same seat again, so all that money – around $70,000 – was still available.
He’s since brought in more money and spent some along the way, and now reports having more than $80,000 on hand as the race heads to the final week. Popplewell, meanwhile, has nearly $23,000 on hand.
The race for superior court judge also is bringing in lots of money, though nearly all of it has gone to the incumbent: Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet. He has more than $100,000, compared to less than $2,000 on hand for his challenger, Willie Saunders.
Lawyers, as expected, have amply padded Overstreet’s account.
The legal community also is generous to the three men running for Columbia County chief magistrate. In the lead is current Associate Magistrate Jason Troiano. He reports having raised more than $36,000, with more than $14,000 cash on hand. Close behind is Christopher Hudson, who has raised nearly $36,000 and reports $11,000 cash on hand. Last is Jason Hasty, who reports raising a total of nearly $21,000, with just $1,300 on hand.
All of the candidates can claim the support of dentist-turned-developer George Snelling, who gave each of them $250.
In the County Commission races, leading the money list is District 3 Commissioner Charles Allen, who reports $42,000 in contributions, much of it from the building industry. He has nearly $5,000 cash on hand. His challenger, Butch Holley, reports $1,195 in contributions and just $225 on hand.
Holley on Tuesday accused Allen of failing to properly disclose the details of most of his contributions and expenditures. He’s threatening to file a complaint with the state’s Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission if Allen doesn’t clear it up.
In District 2, incumbent Trey Allen reports more than $3,600 in contributions and almost $1,500 on hand, while his challenger, perennial candidate Lee Benedict, reports just more than $1,000 in contributions and nearly $400 in cash on hand.
Benedict had troubles of his own this week. The Board of Elections called a Tuesday meeting because of a Facebook post of a photo of Benedict's voting screen – a violation of election law.
Even though six candidates are running for two school board seats, there hasn’t been much money flowing into those races. Heading the list is District 1 candidate David Dekle, whose fellow attorneys have helped raise more than $4,000. He reports just more than $1,000 on hand. Fellow District 1 candidate Carolyn Chase reports just more than $2,100 in contributions, with a little more than $500 on hand. Some of her help has come from School Board Chair Regina Buccafusco.
Brian Slowinski, who was first to announce for the seat after incumbent Wayne Bridges said he wouldn’t seek re-election, still hasn’t filed a financial report despite the June 30 deadline and subsequent seven-day grace period. Nor has District 4 challenger Bobby Ray Strickland.
Strickland is running against incumbent Roxanne Whitaker, who reports no contributions and no expenditures. The other candidate, Deborah Fisher, reports $760 in contributions and has spent just $16.
Most of these candidates have agreed to speak Saturday at a forum being put together by the Columbia County Citizens for Good Government called “Celebrating America.” It’s from 5-9 p.m. at the home of Dennis and Carolyn Kirkland at 5335 Hereford Farm Road, Evans.
Those interested in attending (and in donating to help pay for the event) are asked to make reservations by calling Stefanee Berry at (706) 533-2185.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)