When it came to winning last year's special election for a vacancy on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners, Lee Anderson walked away with the seat and the biggest spending tab.
According to campaign disclosure forms filed this week with the Columbia County Board of Elections, Anderson spent nearly $16,400 on the quick campaign. Dec. 31 was the deadline for the race's spending reports to be turned in, and the candidates had an extra five-day grace period.
In September, the board's District 4 seat became open when Mark Devoti resigned to take a job in Virginia. On election night the next month, Anderson ended up with 55 percent of the votes, 1,017, cast in his favor.
Though the next highest vote count went to George James with 22 percent of the ballots, the next highest spender was Sam Jones, who netted 17 percent of the votes but spent nearly $13,900.
Candidates John Bentley and Rosa Lee Owens spent nothing on their campaigns except filing fees, according to their reports. Instead, they relied on public debates and face-to-face meetings.
Anderson's largest expense was on campaign signs, on which he spent more than $4,500 to get his face out to the voters living in the district, which is the county's largest in size and covers the area south of Interstate 20 and the cities of Grovetown and Harlem.
The self-employed businessman and farmer also raised the most money of the five candidates.
In the final weeks leading to the election, Anderson raised $4,700 from businesses and residents. Overall, he got nearly $18,800 in contributions.
Anderson said he plans to run for re-election later this year when the District 4 seat goes back on the ballot. County commissioners Tom Mercer and Diane Ford also will see their positions up for re-election.
Mercer said he plans to start meeting with his campaign organizers later this month, where they will discuss fund-raising strategies.
The sheriff's position also will be on the ballot this year, and the one person who has stepped forward to challenge incumbent Clay Whittle already has built up a significant war chest.
Lewis Blanchard, former public safety director for the Columbia County school system, has raised more than $75,000 of in-kind and cash contributions.
Blanchard, who now owns the travel services and corporate hospitality company Executive Marketing Services in Augusta, already has spent more than $30,000 on a campaign he has not yet officially launched.
Blanchard plans to make an announcement about his candidacy later this month.
He said that he has not actively sought contributions, but he has held several information meetings around the county to discuss public safety issues with people.
"That has helped generate a lot of the donations that we've had coming into the campaign," Blanchard said.
He also held a golf tournament in November, and many of the donated prizes were reflected in his disclosure report. He counted more than $13,000 as in-kind contributions to himself for the golf tournament prizes.
He recorded $600 for office rent as an in-kind contribution from himself.
In comparison, Whittle raised nearly $8,400 during this reporting period, which started June 30. He had another $3,000 he raised earlier, and has about $8,300 left in his coffers for the race.
Whittle said that he has not yet started fund-raising and plans to begin meeting with his campaign team next week.
District 4 candidates
$195 (filing fee)
Rosa Lee Owens
$195 (filing fee)
2004 sheriff candidates
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