Politics & Government

Charlotte’s mayoral hopefuls reach out to their bases to raise funds

From the corner office to across the street, Charlotte’s mayoral candidates turned to their bases for the money they hope will lift them to victory.

Charlotte’s six major candidates tapped a range of supporters as they pulled in more than $900,000, according to reports filed this month.

▪ Democrat Jennifer Roberts relied on a wide network from earlier campaigns for county commissioner and Congress. With a long head-start on her rivals, she raised more than $300,000 from a variety of supporters, with an especially strong showing among women.

▪ After a late start, Democratic Mayor Dan Clodfelter raised $183,000, in part by tapping networks of fellow lawyers.

▪ Democratic City Council member David Howard raised $159,000 with contributions from across the city, including from two former mayors.

▪ Democrat Michael Barnes, the mayor pro tem, raised less than $20,000 and later downplayed the role of money.

▪ Republican Edwin Peacock raised $137,000, while his GOP opponent Scott Stone took in $104,000. Both relied heavily on support from business professionals and raised most of their money in southeast Charlotte.

The candidates meet in primaries on Sept. 15. Early voting starts Sept. 3.

Turnout is expected to be low. Two years ago, less than 7 percent of Charlotte voters went to the polls to nominate a new mayor. In low-turnout elections, grassroots campaigning often makes more of an impact than money.

But fundraising is a broad reflection of a candidate’s support and organization.

“It’s a valuable indicator … but it’s not the only thing,” says Martha Kropf, a political scientist at UNC Charlotte.

Roberts began running more than a year ago. By January, she’d already raised $154,000. She tapped a network that helped her win four at-large terms on the board of county commissioners.

Her donors include academics, executives, teachers and business owners. A Spanish-speaking former diplomat, she raised money from La Noticia publisher Hilda Gurdian and other members of Charlotte’s international community.

“It means my message is connecting with Charlotte voters,” Roberts says. “It’s really a pretty diverse group, lots of moms but also executives and retirees. It represents the community.”

Clodfelter raised more than $61,000 from fellow attorneys. That was 42 percent of all he raised since he started running last spring. It included $18,500 from lawyers in his old firm, Moore & Van Allen, and $6,900 from those with his current firm, Parker Poe.

A former state senator, he transferred $37,700 from his Senate account. Clodfelter says his donations from other attorneys is a sort of testimonial.

“I thought it was a pretty positive sign that the people who know me best are willing to support me,” he says.

Howard’s supporters included business leaders, developers and community activists. Among his contributors were former Mayors Eddie Knox and Harvey Gantt.

“I think I’m the only person in the race who can talk to someone at the corner of Remount Road and West Boulevard and the board room of Duke Energy,” Howard says.

Barnes raised less than $20,000. But in 2013, he was outraised nearly 3-1 among at-large candidates and still led the ticket.

“I’ve never been a big fan of fundraising,” he says. “But I did what I needed to do in terms of getting my message to voters and connecting with voters.”

Peacock, who raised nearly $400,000 in his 2013 race against Democrat Patrick Cannon, tapped familiar donors, most from business and many from the finance and insurance industries. This time he raised $137,000 in 42 days.

“We were ecstatic with that kind of response,” he says. “For being the last (major candidate) to announce, we were really pleased.’

Stone raised nearly as much this year as he did through his entire 2011 campaign against incumbent Democrat Anthony Foxx. Like Peacock, he found most of his support from traditional GOP donors in southeast Charlotte.

“I would say it reflects a broad base of support from a lot of different pockets in the community,” Stone says.

Democratic candidates Roderick Davis and DeJawon Joseph reported no contributors.

The bottom lines

RAISED

SPENT

ON HAND

Democrats

Barnes

$19,350

$1,592

$48,071

Clodfelter

$182,904

$118,797

$64,106

Howard

$158,876

$46,531

$113,704

Roberts

$302,227

$97,625

$204,601

Republicans

Peacock

$137,031

$24,162

$112,869

Stone

$104,079

$29,887

$79,917

Source: Mecklenburg County Board of Elections

Notable donors

Democrats

Michael Barnes

  • Daniel Levine, Matthews, Levine Properties, $800
  • Alvin Levine, Charlotte, Levine Properties, $800
  • Richard Lazes, Cornelius, Ark Group: $500
  • Noah Lazes, Cornelius, Ark Group: $500
  • Nigel Long, Charlotte, investment banker, $1,000
  • George Laughrun, Charlotte attorney: $1,000

Dan Clodfelter

  • Thomas Belk Jr., CEO Belk Inc., $2,500
  • Erskine Bowles, investment banker, $500
  • Former N.C. Revenue Secretary David Hoyle, $1,500
  • Developer Fred Klein, $1,000
  • Charlotte attorney Russell Robinson, $3,000
  • C.D. Spangler, former UNC System president, $5,000

David Howard

  • Hugh McColl, retired Bank of America chairman, $1,000
  • Harvey Gantt, former mayor, $500
  • Don Beaver, Conover, Charlotte Knights owner, $250
  • Darryl Dewberry, CEO Spectrum Properties, $1,000
  • Roddey Dowd Jr., president, Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, $500
  • Dianne English, executive director, Community Building Initiative, $250

Jennifer Roberts

  • Tim Bice, Wells Fargo executive, $3,500
  • Crandall Bowles, former Springs Company executive, $1,500
  • Wayne Cooper, a founder of Charlotte’s International Cabinet, $650
  • Tom Gabbard, CEO, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, $250
  • H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, former speedway executive, $600
  • Clay Grubb, CEO, Grubb Properties, $2,275

Republicans

Edwin Peacock III

  • Attorney John Fennebresque, chair of University of North Carolina board of trustees, $5,100
  • Michael and Wendy Kahn, owners, Charlotte Checkers, $10,200
  • Frank Harrison, CEO, Coca Cola Bottlers, $2,000
  • Former Gov. Jim Martin, $500
  • Ronald Withrow, chairman, Withrow Capital, $1,000
  • R. Glenn Sherrill Jr., president, Steelfab, $2,500

Scott Stone

  • Sandra Keffer, Keffer Auto Group, $5,100
  • Former N.C. Rep. Ed McMahan, $500
  • Felix Sabates, NASCAR team partner, auto dealer, $2,000
  • William Crowder, president, Crowder Construction, $3,000
  • Jay Faison, entrpreneur and environmental activist, $2,000
  • Mark Harris, First Baptist pastor, $250
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