Under the Dome

Let the 2016 race begin: McCrory, Cooper start with roughly equal campaign cash

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper start 2014 on roughly equal footing for a potential battle for the governor’s mansion in 2016, according to campaign finance records.

Cooper’s campaign brought in $589,000 in last six months of 2013 and now has nearly $1 million in the bank to start 2014, according to a summary of his campaign finance report released Friday. McCrory’s campaign reported Friday that it had nearly $1.3 million in the bank as of Dec. 31, after receiving about $190,000 from July through December, according to his report released Friday.

Cooper’s fundraising represents a further signal that he is gearing up for a run for the governor’s office. With a slight modification to his campaign committee, Cooper could spend the money in a gubernatorial bid, a state campaign finance official said.

Of the money Cooper raised in the second half of 2013, the vast majority – about $569,000 – came from individual donors, with about $20,000 from political action committees. In the first half of 2013, Cooper raised about $100,000.

McCrory’s campaign, meanwhile, raised $36,000 from individuals from July 1 through the end of the year. More than $150,000 came from refunds and reimbursements to McCrory’s committee, including money from unused media buys in his 2012.

The Cooper for North Carolina committee filed a “statement of organization” in September listing the “office sought” as attorney general. But the “office sought” box also includes, in parentheses, the words “Subject to Amendment in 2015.” It’s the earliest indication Cooper had sights on the governor’s office.

Cooper would simply have to amend his statement of organization to reflect a bid for governor, said Sheryll Harris, a compliance specialist with the State Board of Elections.