Under the Dome

Berger leads NC legislators in fundraising

Senate leader Phil Berger raised more money in the first half of 2015 than any other legislator.
Senate leader Phil Berger raised more money in the first half of 2015 than any other legislator. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Senate leader Phil Berger has raised more campaign money than any other state legislator in the first half of 2015.

Berger’s campaign finance report, released Monday, shows he raised $629,000 from January through June. He had $627,000 on hand at the end of the reporting period June 30.

Berger’s numbers are higher than those of House Speaker Tim Moore, who raised $422,000 in the same period and had about $505,000 on hand June 30.

Legislative leaders typically direct a big chunk of their campaign money to their party’s caucus, which helps recruit candidates and fund campaigns in hotly contested districts.

The filing deadline for campaign reports was Friday, but many of them only became available online on Monday. Here are other highlights from reports posted Monday:

Council of State incumbents vary: Several Democrats in statewide positions are entering the 2016 election cycle with sizable campaign accounts.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell leads the pack with $180,096 raised in six months and $221,359. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin took in $77,697 so far this year and has $360,207 on hand.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall raised $42,449 in six months and has $35,379 on hand. State Auditor Beth Wood took in $23,265 for a total of $27,115 on hand.

The campaign of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has been less active this year. He received just $1,000 during the period and has $6,650 on hand.

Does that indicate that he might step down in 2016? Not necessarily – Dome notes that Troxler didn’t step up his 2012 fundraising until the year of the election.

N.C. Democratic Party replenishes bank account: The state Democratic Party ended 2014 with just $42,731 on hand, and incoming chairwoman Patsy Keever said fundraising would be a key priority. The party raised $632,281 in the first half of the year and has $368,492 on hand.

That puts it ahead of the N.C. Republican Party, which brought in $574,054 during the same period and has $187,060 on hand.

It doesn’t pay to switch: Rep. Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk started the year by leaving the Democratic Party and becoming the legislature’s only unaffiliated member, joining the Republican caucus.

Since then, Tine has received just $735 in donations, and he gave back $550 to two unhappy Democratic contributors. One of them is former News & Observer publisher Frank Daniels, who got $500 as a “refunded contribution due to party change,” according to the campaign report.