February 1, 2010
Candidates tout variety of finance figures
The day is finally here. It's the campaign finance reporting deadline for the 2009 year-end period, and flacks were busy all weekend (at minimum) coming up with just the right spin to accompany the data.
Boiled down, there are essentially three messages: (A) "I've got the most money, no matter where it came from;" (B) "I don't have any (or am not willing to part with) personal money, so I don't have the most money, but I received money from the greatest number of people;" or (C) "money isn't what makes a good candidate for office, but I sure wish I had some more of it so I could tell more people that."
A secondary theme that shows up sometimes is "wow, I raised x dollars in only y weeks." That's what we heard from state Sen. Jim Tracy, who is seeking to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon in the 6th Congressional District. Tracy has quite the task ahead of him, as the GOP field is crowded with folks eager to be the one that pushes this district into their party's column. (That'll be pretty easy to do, by the way, if no Democrat ever shows up to run. So far: nada.) Tracy's A-list counterpart is Lou Ann Zelenik, who has created a treasury by dumping about $300,000 into her campaign account.
Here in the 3rd District, Robin Smith issued the "continues to lead all Third District candidates in campaign contributions from individuals" release, with a total of $240,029 (over $90K for the quarter); while Chuck Fleischmann continued his "I'm dominating the field with way more cash on hand than anyone else" drumbeat. Cleveland businessman Art Rhodes, Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble, and Chattanooga real estate investor Tommy Crangle occupy the third financial tier in the GOP. Knoxville attorney Van Irion has not filed any reports. As with the 6th, there are no Democrats, as nothing further has been heard from Oak Ridge scientist Brad Parish; Chattanooga City Councilman Andrae McGary announced late last week that he will not seek the nomination.
Independents who have declared an interest in the race fare pretty poorly in the disclosure rankings: Mark DeVol raised no funds in the fourth quarter, and no records are yet available for Greg Goodwin. Newer entrants Jean Howard-Hill, Mo Kiah, and Spencer Owens are excluded from the reporting period.
In the gubernatorial race, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is the undisputed money leader with $5.7 million, while U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp claims the momentum title, even though he was slightly edged out by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for the period. (Ramsey, it should be noted, is barred from continuing to raise money while the General Assembly is in session.) The Democratic candidates for governor have yet to release their reports as of this writing. Updates will be added as they become available.
References and further reading:
- Congressional Quarterly
- Humphrey on the Hill (II)
- Chuck Fleischmann campaign
- Robin Smith campaign (press release via e-mail)
- Post Politics (which has much more, covering some state races and the Democratic primary in the 9th Congressional District)
- Chattanooga Times Free Press
- Nashville Post