No congressional candidate in the country has dug deeper into his own pocket than Republican Robert Pittenger in North Carolinas 9th District, according to campaign reports filed Thursday.
Pittenger gave his campaign more than $1.9 million through June 27. That helped the Charlotte real estate investor collect seven times as much as GOP rival Jim Pendergraph, a Mecklenburg County commissioner and former sheriff.
Meanwhile, only a half-dozen congressional districts have seen more outside spending than the neighboring 8th District.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, no other House candidate has spent as much of his own money as Pittenger.
We regrettably had to spend money to catch up with Mr. Pendergraphs 15 years of press coverage, said Pittenger political director Brian Mullis.
Reports show Pittenger raised more than $2.3 million to Pendergraphs $354,000. While Pittenger had $90,000 in the bank on June 27, Pendergraph had just over $8,000.
On one day in April alone, Pittenger spent $324,000 on TV and radio advertising. That was almost as much as Pendergraph has spent the entire campaign.
We have exceeded our fundraising budget to execute our game plan, said Neal Harrington, Pendergraphs campaign manager.
The two are vying for the nomination to replace Republican Rep. Sue Myrick in the heavily GOP district that includes parts of Iredell, Mecklenburg and Union counties.
The winner of their July 17 runoff faces Democrat Jennifer Roberts in November.
Even in whats expected to be a low-turnout runoff, money is a distinct advantage.
Each candidates donor list includes a whos-who of big names. Pittengers donors include former Gov. Jim Martin and his wife, Dottie, former Bank of America Chairman Ken Lewis, developer John Crosland Jr., and James Goodnight, CEO of the Triangle-based SAS Institute. Koch Industries Inc. political action committee gave him $5,000.
Pendergraphs contributors include NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, former Bank of America Chairman Hugh McColl Jr., developer John Harris and former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot.
Myrick, who has endorsed Pendergraph, gave him $6,000 from her campaign. Pendergraph loaned his campaign $20,000.
Despite Pittengers overall advantage, Pendergraph raised more $154,000 from individuals during the most recent reporting period than Pittenger, who raised $97,000 from individuals over the same period.
Both campaigns spent most of their money on advertising.
Pendergraph placed most of his $118,400 worth with Myrick-Gunter Advertising, a company owned by Myricks stepdaughter. Typically much of that money passes through the company and is used for media buys.
The 9th District has seen a small amount of outside spending. A pro-Pittenger group called Citizens for Conservative Leadership has spent just over $13,000 on mailers targeting Pendergraph.
But in the 8th District Republican runoff to face incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell outside spending has been a big factor.
There, outside groups have spent $885,000, more than just six districts across the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The biggest chunk: nearly $700,000 from the conservative Club for Growths political action committee and Super PAC on behalf of Mooresville dentist Scott Keadle.
An outside group also has helped his opponent, Concord consultant Richard Hudson. The YG Action Fund, a Super PAC with ties to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, has spent $98,500 on Hudsons behalf.
Hudson, a former aide to former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes and other Republican lawmakers, has benefited in other ways from his experience on Capitol Hill.
Hudson, endorsed Thursday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has gotten thousands of dollars from congressional staffers and lawmakers. That includes $10,000 from The Freedom Project, a PAC chaired by Speaker John Boehner.
Reports show Hudson has raised a total of $731,000. That includes a $100,000 loan.
Keadles report was unavailable late Thursday.