Mecklenburg County’s incumbent lawmakers entered the election year with campaign war chests that generally dwarfed their opponents – and even helped fill the coffers of one newcomer.
New reports showed that incumbents out-raised other candidates in 2015, many with the help of their parties or political action committees.
Some lawmakers, including the one he hopes to succeed, also helped Republican Scott Stone out-raise former school board member Tim Morgan in their south Mecklenburg primary.
Like other candidates, those running for the General Assembly have a quick sprint to the March 15 primaries. Many, especially newcomers, need money to build recognition, particularly in a crowded election year.
The finance reports, due last week, show fundraising and spending through December. They were still unavailable for some candidates on Wednesday.
The three Senate candidates who raised the most have no primary opposition.
▪ Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius raised nearly $116,000, far more than his general election opponents.
▪ Charlotte Republican Rep. Dan Bishop raised more than $99,000 for his Senate campaign. He’s running for a seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Bob Rucho. His Democratic opponent, Lloyd Scher, hadn’t raised anything.
▪ Charlotte Democrat Jeff Jackson raised $45,000. But combined with campaign money from earlier, he had $64,000 on hand at the end of the year. A report for his GOP opponent, Bob Diamond, wasn’t available.
On the House side, Republican Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville raised nearly $83,000 toward re-election in District 92, which stretches through west Mecklenburg. His primary opponent, Tom Davis reported no contributions.
Jeter was boosted by $16,000 from the House Republican caucus.
The winner of the Republican primary faces Democrat Chaz Beasley, a newcomer who has raised nearly $39,000, much of it with the help of fellow lawyers.
Demographics and voter registration make their district potentially one of the state’s most competitive.
Two of Mecklenburg’s most competitive contests are primaries for open House seats.
With Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham stepping down in District 100, Democrats John Autry and Billy Maddalon are vying for her seat. So far, it’s not a high-spending race. Maddalon has raised $1,300. Autry, a Charlotte City Council member, reported raising just over $500.
A more expensive contest is taking place in House District 105. The southern Mecklenburg district, which includes Ballantyne, is bordered by York and Union counties.
Republican Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, who is stepping down, gave Stone’s campaign the maximum $5,100. He also got contributions from the campaigns of Rucho and Chris Millis, a Republican lawmaker from eastern North Carolina.
Bob Luddy, a conservative businessman from Raleigh, also gave him $5,100.
“Our campaign has strong support from conservatives both in Mecklenburg and throughout the state,” said Stone, who has twice run unsuccessfully for mayor. “The fact that I have members of the House and Senate supporting me is going to be very helpful because I’ll go to Raleigh next year with allies that can be helpful to (the district).”
Morgan, his GOP opponent, raised over $15,000 from a diverse group of supporters.
They include former colleagues at CMS including former Superintendent Peter Gorman and board counsel George Battle III. Battle was also one of several Democrats who contributed, including Ken Eudy, a former state party executive director.
“Quite honestly I’ve never paid attention to what party they are because I’ve worked together with them on issues,” Morgan said. “I would think it probably has a lot to do with my six years on the board of education. Folks learned pretty quickly that I’m thoughtful on issues and will have conversations with folks on both sides of the aisle.”
Here’s a look at how much Mecklenburg County legislative candidates involved in March 15 primaries had raised through Dec. 31.
▪ Senate District 40: Democratic primary. Sen. Joyce Waddell and Nasif Majeed. (Reports unavailable.)
▪ Senate District 38: Democratic primary. Sen. Joel Ford raised $7,300. Roderick Davis reported no contributions.
▪ House District 92: Republican primary. Rep. Charles Jeter raised $82,662. Tom Davis reported no outside contributions.
▪ House District 100: Democratic primary. Billy Maddalon raised $1,273. John Autry raised $534.
▪ House District 101. Democratic primary. Rep. Beverly Earle raised $1,272 (though she had $13,774 on hand from previous campaigns). Steven Jones reported no contributions.
▪ House District 103: Democratic primary: Neither Noah Lieberman nor Rochelle Rivas reported any contributions. (The winner faces GOP Rep. Bill Brawley.)
▪ House District 105: Republican primary. Scott Stone raised $27,965. Tim Morgan raised $15,170.
▪ House District 107: Democratic primary. Rep. Kelly Alexander Jr. raised $4,961 (though he has $23,061 on hand from past elections). Robert Blok raised $4,867, all from himself.
Source: N.C. State Board of Elections