In the hotly contested race for Columbia County the office of sheriff between incumbent Clay Whittle and Lewis Blanchard it's no surprise that it has become the most expensive one in vying for votes on the county's July 20 primary ballots.
Whittle has spent just more than $86,700 in the race since the beginning of the year with Blanchard forking out nearly $98,400, according to updated campaign disclosure reports released last week.
During the past three months, Whittle has spent $68,000 - $18,500 of that on road signs, yard signs and billboards. During the same time, Blanchard has spent $74,600 with $24,700 going to the Hurst Group alone for advertising and consulting services.
The sheriff post will be decided on the Republican primary tickets less than a week from now. To fund the pre-election blitz, both candidates have been busy collecting contributions totaling six figures.
Bolstered by about $39,800 of in-kind and cash contributions during recent months, more than $107,500 has flowed through Whittle campaign coffers. Those included $2,000 from the builders group B-PAC, $2,000 from the Coalition for Quality Government and $200 from (Jim) Whitehead Tire Service Inc., during the most recent reporting period that started in April.
Blanchard's campaign has benefited from about $122,600 in cash and in-kind contributions, with $63,100 coming in during the most recent period. Blanchard gave himself $10,000 along with in-kind donations for rental space at his Executive Marketing business in Augusta. He also received $500 from Cushman Paint and Body as well as $1,000 from owner Jimmy Cushman and $2,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union in Augusta.
In the next most expensive race, state Senate District 24 candidates seeking the Republican win have spent a combined $98,300 this year. At $64,400, incumbent Joey Brush, R-Appling, has spent almost twice as much as his Republican challenger Jim Whitehead, who has paid $33,800 for expenses such as golf tournament prizes and Web site development.
Brush raised nearly $66,900 in contributions during in the past three months, and Whitehead netted slightly less at $58,300 in cash and in-kind contributions.
Whitehead spun his contributions list as an indicator of support within the 24th District, stating in press release Monday that less than 10 percent of the dollars he raised came from outside the seven-county district. He charged that Brush almost 70 percent of his total money from outside the district.
Democratic challenger for the seat, who will run against Brush or Whitehead in November, has raised $600 and given himself $3,600 and spent $3,600.
Columbia County Commissioner Diane Ford raised $13,100 this period to retain her District 3 seat. That amount included $200 from fellow commissioner Tom Mercer and $250 from former commissioner Frank Spears.
Challenger Greg Kernaghan raised almost $11,700 from such sources as Pollards Lumber, which contributed $1,000 in cash and $385 worth of lumber, $500 from Kernaghan Paint & Body where he is shop manager.
Wade Padgett has spent significantly more than his two opponents for the open Chief Magistrate position. He has paid out $38,700 so far, compared to $10,700 spent by Richard Ingram and $2,000 by Hal Morris.
April 1-June 30 Campaign Funding Report
COLUMBIA COUNTY SHERIFF
Clay Whittle (incumbent):
STATE SENATE, DISTRICT 24
Joey Brush, R-Appling, (incumbent)
Jim Whitehead (Republican)
Chuck Pardue (Democrat)
COLUMBIA COUNTY COMMISSION, DISTRICT 3
Diane Ford (incumbent)
COLUMBIA COUNTY CHIEF MAGISTRATE
Richard Ingram (Republican)
spent: $ 10,700
Hal Morris (Republican)
Wade Padgett (Republican)
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