Under the Dome

Three NC downballot races with competitive fundraising numbers

Campaign finance reports were due this week for the first two months of 2016, and for many statewide and legislative primary contests, the numbers aren’t even close.

In primaries for governor, state treasurer, U.S. Senate and others, the frontrunner has a clear fundraising advantage over other candidates.

But campaign reports from several races showed candidates that are closely matched in fundraising – an indication that the outcome of next week’s primary is far from certain.

Here are three contests to watch, based on fundraising numbers:

Lieutenant governor, Democratic primary: Former state Rep. Linda Coleman and Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones are both running TV commercials thanks to strong fundraising efforts.

Jones leads in 2016 fundraising with $70,000 so far, compared to $46,000 for Coleman. But Coleman – who benefits from name recognition from her 2012 run for lieutenant governor – ended February with more money in the bank: $87,000, well above Jones’ $48,000 on hand.

Both Coleman and Jones are far ahead of the other two Democrats on the ballot: Ron Newton raised $1,700 in the reporting period, and Robert Wilson pulled in $8,000.

Attorney general, Republican primary: Much like the two Democrats running for lieutenant governor, the two GOP candidates for attorney general are also spending thousands on TV ads.

State Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill posted remarkably similar fundraising numbers: Newton raised $81,835 so far this year, and O’Neill raised $82,487.

Newton had slightly more cash on hand at the end of the period, with $56,000 to O’Neill’s $52,000.

Both Republicans trailed the leading Democratic candidate, state Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh, who raised $157,000 during the period and had $1.49 million on hand.

N.C. Senate District 16, Democratic primary: With Stein running for attorney general, two Democrats are running a heated primary race to succeed him in the left-leaning Wake County district.

Former N.C. League of Municipalities director Ellis Hankins has raised $46,000 so far in 2016, while attorney Jay Chaudhuri raised $41,000. Hankins had $54,000 on hand at the end of the period, while Chaudhuri had $60,000.

Both have been sending frequent mailers to Democrats in the district.