Key Tenn. Senate races see heavy fundraising
Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 9:26 pm
By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Campaign finance reports show heavy fundraising by candidates in key races that could determine which party controls the state Senate next year.
Candidates were required to file their quarterly statements by midnight Friday for the period that ended Sept. 30. Early voting starts Wednesday, and the general election is on Nov. 4.
Republicans and Democrats each hold 16 seats in the upper chamber, along with one independent, so both major parties are hustling to try to gain at least one seat and hang onto the ones they already have.
In Senate District 22, the reports show frantic fundraising activity following the state Democratic Party’s decision to declare incumbent Sen. Rosalind Kurita’s primary win invalid in mid September.
Kurita, who has represented the district since 1997, was replaced on the ballot by Clarksville attorney Tim Barnes. There is no Republican running for the seat that represents Montgomery, Cheatham and Houston counties.
Kurita lost support among many fellow Democrats after she cast a key vote in favor of Sen. Ron Ramsey in the Republican’s election as Senate speaker in 2007. She has raised about $31,600 for her write-in campaign. Barnes, meanwhile, raised about $36,500.
The fundraising numbers reflect the level of outside interest in the race: Kurita raised only $4,000 from people inside the district after her ouster, while Barnes collected only about $5,000 from potential constituents.
Kurita’s numbers do not yet reflect a fundraiser hosted by Republican senators on her behalf on Oct. 1. Ramsey’s filing shows he gave $2,000 to Kurita on Sept. 22, but that check isn’t yet included in her quarterly filing.
Ramsey, of Blountville, has targeted the upper northeast Tennessee seat of independent Sen. Mike Williams of Maynardville. Williams, who left the Republican Party last year after years of deteriorating relations with Ramsey, brought in nearly $44,000 in contributions in the third quarter, and spent about $18,000.
That left Williams with about $60,000 heading into the last full month of campaigning.
The Republican challenger in the Senate District 4 race, Mike Faulk raised about $48,500, spent $122,000 and had about $68,000 left. Faulk earlier wrote his campaign a $50,000 check.
Faulk’s campaign has been rocked by allegations by a married chairwoman of the Hawkins County Young Republicans that she had an affair with him.
In the race to fill the West Tennessee seat of former longtime Democratic Senate Speaker John Wilder, Democrat Randy Camp raised about $76,500, spent nearly $138,000 and had about $125,000 remaining.
Camp’s Republican opponent in the Senate District 26 race, state Rep. Delores Gresham of Somerville, had to ramp up her fundraising activity after narrowly emerging from a three-way GOP primary in August.
She started the quarter with only about $12,500 on hand, but raised almost $209,000, including $40,000 from the Tennessee Republican Caucus, and $17,000 from Ramsey and his political action committee. Gresham had $77,500 remaining on hand.
Another key race is for the Senate District 12 seat being vacated by Sen. Tommy Kilby, D-Wartburg. Morgan County Executive Becky Ruppe, a Democrat faces Republican Ken Yager, a former Roane County executive. The largely rural district also includes Campbell, Fentress, Rhea and Scott counties.
Yager collected about $67,000 and had $177,000 remaining, while Ruppe raised almost $76,000 and had $114,500 on hand.
Republican state House candidate A.J. McCall, who is challenging longtime Rep. Stratton Bone, a Lebanon Democrat and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, reported raising about $25,500 in the quarter.
The big drop from McCall’s second quarter haul of nearly $79,500 comes after Democrats circulated police reports for two drunken driving arrests in the 1990s, including one that says McCall was pulled over in a Wal-Mart parking lot late one night after an officer was flagged down by a woman who said he tried to make her get in his van.
Bone raised nearly $50,000 in the quarter for the House District 46 race.
On the Net:
Tennessee Registry of Election Finance: www.state.tn.us/tref
Published in The Messenger 10.14.08