If money is the mothers milk of politics, weve got a lot of politicians around here who should be wearing green mustaches.
Another deadline for political candidates to file campaign contribution and expenditure disclosures recently passed. Local candidates didnt hold a parade to announce the date, but with all the money rolling in, they could have showered themselves with dollars reminiscent of those New York ticker-tape parades.
Actually, the money thing is feast or famine. Regina Buccafusco, who is up for re-election to the School Board without opposition, reports no contributions and no expenditures during this reporting cycle, from June 30-Sept. 30.
On the other side of the spectrum in Columbia County is Commission chairman-elect Ron Cross, who reports contributions of just over $41,000. A fourth of that money came in the form of a $10,000 loan to the campaign from Cross company, CCI Construction.
uch loans from a candidate to his own campaign are generally a bad investment. Tony Mundy, for example, put $6,132 into his campaign as he headed into a runoff with Mark Devoti. The extra cash gave Mundy a nearly 2-1 advantage in fund-raising for the runoff, but Devoti still won in a landslide.
The rationale against self-financed campaigns is that if a candidate has to pay for his or her own race, he or she has failed to do the legwork to ensure broad community support. Cross bucked that trend: his total contributions during the election period totaled $55,600, eclipsing the $13,000 raised by his opponent, Andy Kingery.
In sheer percentages of self-contributions, none of the candidates can hold a candle to Anna Hargis, the Democrat running against state Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling. Hargis doesnt accept campaign contributions, so the $2,562 she reports is out of her own pocket. The only outside money she reports is a birthday gift from her mother and sister in the form of a newspaper advertisement they purchased on Hargis behalf.
We cant compare Hargis war chest - such as it is - to Brushs. He missed not only the Sept. 30 deadline for filing his contribution report, but also missed the five-day grace period afterward. In spite of a well-deserved reputation for speed (one which he fortunately hasnt embellished recently with any new traffic tickets), Brush is notorious for being the slowest local candidate to file political paperwork.
Speaking of slow, every other race seems to be whizzing along while the Board of Edu-cation race between incumbent Mickey Blackburn challenger Andy Ezell is creeping along in stealth mode.
The race would certainly get more attention if the candidates ran under party labels. Lawmakers years ago decided to make school board races non-partisan, in the nave belief that it would keep the politics out of a political race. What a joke.
The absence of party labels really means that neither of the countys political parties acts as if it has a stake in the election, even though Blackburn has long been identified as a Democrat, and Ezell is an active Republican.
In any event, the race hasnt proved to be a magnet for money, either. Blackburn reports just $750 in income; Ezel received only $550 in donations, but gave himself an additional $2,000.
All told, Columbia Countys candidates - not including the absent Brush - have brought in nearly $200,000 during this campaign season.
A lot of money, you think? During the same time period, state Sen. Charles Walker reports contributions totaling nearly $850,000.
If money really is the mothers milk of politics, this would explain that giant sucking sound.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal@ newstimesonline.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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