Under the Dome

A Democrat challenging Holding has raised a tiny fraction of the ‘insane’ amount she’ll need

Linda Coleman, then a candidate for lieutenant governor, concedes her race to Dan Forest in the ballroom at the Raleigh Marriott City Center on November 9, 2016.
Linda Coleman, then a candidate for lieutenant governor, concedes her race to Dan Forest in the ballroom at the Raleigh Marriott City Center on November 9, 2016. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Linda Coleman, the best-known Democratic challenger to Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, raised less than $25,000 in the last three months of 2017, according to federal election data.

Coleman, who lost statewide races for lieutenant governor in 2012 and 2016, entered the race in October. In the fourth quarter of the year, she raised $24,058.21, which includes a $1,500 candidate loan. She has more than $20,000 cash on hand. Coleman attributed the low totals to her late start and the holiday period.

“What will tell the story will be the March 31 deadline. The holidays are behind us. We’re all in full fundraising mode,” Coleman said Thursday.

Holding raised more than $1.1 million in 2017 and has more than $386,000 cash on hand as the Republican seeks his fourth term in Congress.

Democrat Ken Romley, a Raleigh businessman who is running for office for the first time, will report raising more than $415,000 in 2017 with $304,000 cash on hand, according to his campaign manager. He received about $100,000 in contributions, and he loaned himself the rest of his total.

“We’re the only candidate running who can compete with George Holding and that’s clear,” Romley’s campaign manager, Thomas Mills, said.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of money to lend myself that he does,” Coleman said.

Republican Allen Chesser, an Iraq War veteran from Louisburg, has raised slightly more than $3,400.

No other candidate in the 2nd District race reported any fundraising in 2017. Democrat Wendy Ella May has announced she’s running but has not reported raising any money. Candidates had to report their final 2017 fundraising numbers by Jan. 31; the primary is May 8.

The 2nd District includes parts of Wake, Johnson and Wilson counties as well as all of Franklin, Nash and Harnett counties.

Coleman, who won three terms in the statehouse, said she believes the race will cost her campaign between $2 million and $2.5 million. Coleman raised slightly more than $1 million for her 2016 campaign.

“It should not because it’s insane,” she said. “I think that’s what keeps a lot of good people out of races because you spend all of your time on the phone trying to raise money and you don’t get a chance to meet face-to-face with the people you hope to represent, which should be the priority.”

Democrat Sam Searcy, who owns a vodka distillery and lives in Holly Springs, switched from running for Congress to running for state Senate against Republican Sen. Tamara Barringer.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted Holding’s district as part of its strategy to retake the U.S. House. The DCCC is also working to flip three other districts — Rep. Robert Pittenger’s district in south-central North Carolina, Rep. Ted Budd’s district west of Greensboro and Rep. Richard Hudson’s district that stretches from Fayetteville to suburban Charlotte.

Democratic challengers are faring better in fundraising in other parts of the state. Dan McCready has outraised Pittenger and Republican challenger Mark Harris in the Charlotte-area district, and Kathy Manning raised more than $563,000 after joining the race to challenge Budd in late November. Budd raised more than $557,000 in the full year.

Brian Murphy: 202-383-6089, @MurphinDC

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