Ron Cross is putting his money where his hat is.
The candidate for Columbia County Commission Chairman has poured $8,000 into his own campaign - plus another $1,000 from his wife, according to the Cross' first Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report.
The first financial reports from candidates in the Aug. 20 primary were due last week - and, so far, Cross is close to the local fundraising lead with $14,390. Ahead of him is one person: State Representative candidate Barry Fleming, who has raised $25,626.
Fleming, the former Columbia County Commission Chairman, received 38 donations of more than $101 - contributions that have to be individually listed on the disclosure forms. Most of those came from company executives, fellow attorneys, bankers, even a Harvard professor - Mark T. Bradshaw, who gave $101 - and from people outside the boundaries of the 79th District.
Meanwhile, he's spent more than $9,100, including nearly $7,500 to an Atlanta public relations firm, Landmark Communication, Inc.
Fleming, a Republican, has no opposition in the primary, but does face Democrat Terry Holley in the November General Election. In the first reporting period, which ran from January 1 to June 30, Holley raised $400 - the amount he paid to file to run for the District 79 House seat.
In the county's other state race - the contest for the State Senate's 24th District seat - Republican incumbent Joey Brush has raised a little more than $8,300 since the beginning of the year, mostly money from developers and political action committees. He spent almost $9,050 - the difference made up from money already in his campaign coffers - on phones, fundraisers, even $82.40 on pizza during a visit to Augusta Christian Schools.
His opponent, however, is taking a novel approach to running for office: Democrat Anna Marie Hargis is forgoing donations. She's paying for her campaign, covering everything from the $400 qualifying fee to the $11.76 name badge from Office Depot. Hargis also ran for Public Service Commission in 1998, also refusing outside donation.
In races to be contested Aug. 20, Cross leads all four candidates.
The $14,390 he's raised includes $500 from Richmond County Commissioner Bill Khulke, $250 from former Columbia County Commission Chairman - and his campaign treasurer - Pete Brodie, and $1,000 from his campaign chairman, local orthodontist James D. Metts.
Cross' disclosure lists no expenditures, despite the $325 he paid in mid-June to enter the chairman race.
His opponent, Andy Kingery, lists the $325 fee paid to the county's Republican Party as his only expenditure of more than $101 during the first six months of the year.
Kingery has raised just $2,850 - despite the fact he announced plans to seek the office weeks before Cross. Kingery's money basically came in three large donations: $1,000 from businessman George Snelling, $1,000 from Gerald Jones Honda and $500 from Augusta Lincoln-Mercury.
In the other contested commission race, incumbent Frank Spears and challenger Steve Brown are neck-and-neck in fundraising - with Brown getting the edge using $1,000 of his own money and $500 from his campaign chairman, Doug Duncan.
Brown has raised $7,585 and spent $3,939 on bumper stickers, phones, business cards and photography in his bid to unseat Spears.
Spears has raised $7,525 since January - money he can add to his incumbent war chest of more than $11,000. Spears has been the biggest spender of the commission candidates, shelling out $7,393 to put his name and face on newspaper ads, signs and billboards.
The Money Trail
STATE SENATE, DISTRICT 24
* Joey Brush, R-Appling (incumbent) - raised:
* Anna Hargis, D-Harlem
STATE HOUSE, DISTRICT 79
* Barry A. Fleming, R-Harlem
* Terry Holley, D-Grovetown
COLUMBIA COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN
* Andy Kingery (republican)
* Ron Cross (republican)
COLUMBIA COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 1
* Frank Spears (incumbent) (republican) - raised:
* Steve Brown (republican)
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