While most attention this campaign season has been focused on the governor’s race, several candidates in down-ballot statewide races closed 2015 with big fundraising numbers.
They’ll need the large purses to get their messages out in a presidential election year, and some face a crowded primary ballot March 15.
Friday was the deadline for all candidates for state and federal offices to file campaign contribution reports for the second half of 2015. But because reports can be mailed with a Friday postmark, many weren’t yet released by the State Board of Elections late Friday.
Several major candidates reported their fundraising numbers earlier this week to highlight their campaigns’ strength, including Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper. Cooper will report $4.9 million cash on hand to McCrory’s $4.1 million.
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Each will have a strong funding advantage in his primary. Cooper’s Democratic opponent, Ken Spaulding, reported raising $22,000 in the reporting period and has $26,000 on hand. McCrory’s Republican opponent, Robert Brawley, says he’s raised $50,000.
State Sen. Josh Stein, a Democrat running for attorney general, reported raising $503,000 for a total of $1.49 million on hand. Figures weren’t yet available for the two Republicans in the attorney general race, state Sen. Buck Newton and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill.
Here’s a look at fundraising in other statewide races so far:
Lieutenant governor: Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announced Friday that he raised $248,000 in the last half of the year. He has a total of $316,000 on hand and doesn’t have an opponent in the GOP primary.
“The single largest source of contributions for the Forest campaign came from 8,561 contributions from individuals throughout the state,” a news release from Forest said.
Of the four Democrats hoping for a chance to unseat Forest, Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones has the strongest total so far, raising $191,000 in the reporting period. She has $114,000 to start the year.
Robert E. Wilson, a longtime state employee, raised $7,000 during the reporting period, and Ron Newton took in $9,000. Linda Coleman, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2012, is the only candidate whose numbers aren’t yet available.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Only two of five primary candidates had finance reports available Friday.
Republican Mark Johnson of Winston-Salem has the strongest total, with $173,000. Johnson is a lawyer and Winston-Salem/Forsyth Board of Education member.
Most of his money, $105,000, was transferred from his school board campaign fund. His individual donors included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave Johnson the maximum $5,100. Bloomberg’s daughter Emma gave $100.
Johnson said in an email that he did not know the former mayor, “but if someone donates to my campaign, they are supporting my vision of undoing the incumbent’s burdensome system of overtesting; responsible use of more and better technology in the classroom; and more local control for better education policies across North Carolina.”
Republican J. Wesley Sills, a teacher from Dunn, reported $1,000. Other candidates’ reports aren’t yet available: Republican Rosemary Stein, incumbent Democrat June Atkinson, and Atkinson’s Democratic primary opponent, Henry Pankey.
State treasurer: Republican Dale Folwell, who until recently headed the Employment Security Commission, reported raising $112,000 – $100,000 of which he loaned to his campaign. He has $116,000 on hand and has no GOP primary opponent.
Democrat Ron Elmer, a Cary CPA, reported raising $23,000 but spent much of it and has $5,000 on hand. Democrat Dan Blue III, an attorney and former Wake County Democratic Party chairman, launched his campaign in mid-December and raised $2,300 in its first weeks.
Insurance commissioner: Incumbent Democrat Wayne Goodwin leads his Republican challengers by a wide margin.
Goodwin says he raised $150,000 in the last half of 2015 and has $464,000 on hand. His campaign said the numbers represent “the most ever raised at this point by a N.C. insurance commissioner candidate.”
Of the three Republicans, former Onslow County Commissioner Joe McLaughlin led with $12,000 – all of which he loaned the campaign. He launched his bid in mid-December.
Mike Causey raised $8,000 in the period and has $4,000 on hand. Ron Pierce gave his campaign $1,200 to pay the election filing fee and has $100 on hand.
Little or no data were available yet on fundraising in the races for state auditor, agriculture commissioner, labor commissioner and secretary of state.