Campaign ‘Green’

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, September 2, 2014

With the calendar rolling to September, political candidates are now in the home stretch of their respective campaigns.

The General Election is a mere three months away (Tuesday, Nov. 4) and with that comes a final push for newspaper, radio and TV ads in an effort to solicit votes. Those ads cost money and candidates are reaching inside their campaign war chests to cover those costs.

The NC FreeEnterprise Foundation tracks the finances of all candidates across the state, who are required to report their cash flow to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

According to the Foundation, there are candidates with campaign coffers brimming with cash while others have very little money on hand.

Locally, the race for NC House District 5 (Bertie, Gates, Hertford and a portion of Pasquotank counties) pits Howard Hunter III, a Hertford County Democrat, against Sidney Pierce, a Gates County Republican.

As of the most recent report of campaign cash, Hunter has an overwhelming advantage. He had a starting balance of $2,537 and has since added $1,660 in individual donations. Of that total, Hunter has spent $3,129 on his campaign to date, leaving him with a shade over $1,000 entering the campaign’s home stretch.

Pierce’s starting balance was $50. He has added $200 through individual donations and $200 from the Republican Party. Of that $450, Pierce has expended only $8, leaving him with $442 cash on hand.

Despite being unopposed in November, House District 27 incumbent Michael Wray of Gaston had $53,377 in campaign cash at the start of the second quarter reporting period. The Democrat received $12,097 in individual donations and another $6,000 in PAC (Political Action Committee) money. He reported expenditures of $52,097, leaving a balance of $19,376.

Another unopposed candidate, Erica Smith-Ingram of Gaston who won a three-person battle in the May Primary for the 3rd District NC Senate seat, posted a starting balance of $1,885. In the latest reporting period, Smith-Ingram tallied $800 in individual donations; $2,000 in PAC funds, and listed $3,500 in the Loans/Refunds/Other category. Smith-Ingram’s expenditures have totaled $7,176, leaving her political coffers with a little over $1,000.

The majority of the fundraising in northeastern North Carolina is seen in the race for the State Senate District 1 seat. Republican Bill Cook currently holds that seat and is opposed by Democrat Stan White, the former District 1 State Senator who narrowly lost to Cook two years ago.

At the start of the second quarter, White’s campaign coffer was filled with $69,041. He added $34,325 worth of individual contributions; gained $100 from his political party; and $250 in PAC money. White has spent ($34,468) basically what he has raised, leaving him with $69,248 to launch a three-month push to regain his seat.

Cook started with $18,473 and added $12,838 thanks to individual contributors; $8,500 from his political party and $1,600 in PAC funds. His expenditures are listed at $14,922, leaving him with $26,488 to use down the stretch.

U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield has a huge war chest with $377,575 cash on hand as he prepares for the final three months of the campaign. The Democratic incumbent had a starting balance of $298,779 and has since added just over $40,000 from individual supporters and $148,700 in PAC money. His expenditures were listed at $110,251.

Arthur Rich, the Republican seeking to unseat Butterfield, reported only $870 cash on hand. He started with a $0 balance and collected $4,987 from individual contributors, and listed $3,745 in the Loans/Refunds/Other category. Of the $8,732 in his war chest, Rich has already expended $7,862.

The “big money” inside North Carolina politics is being spent in the race for the US Senate. There, Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan has a huge advantage in cash on hand, listing $8.73 million compared to $1.53 million for Republican challenger Thom Tillis.

That wide disparity in “war chest” cash was noted in what each candidate reported as a starting balance: $8.62 million for Hagan and $1.06 million for Tillis. Hagan has added $2.86 million from individual supporters; $386,257 in PAC money; and listed $680,939 under the Loans/Refunds/Other category. Her expenditures were listed at $3.7 million.

Tillis’ supporters have individually contributed a combined $1.2 million. He added $45,400 from his political party; picked up $349,043 in PAC funds; and listed $57,985 in Loans/Refunds/Other. His expenditures total $1.44 million.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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