Campaign reports show $100,000-plus races in Middle Georgia

mstucka@macon.comOctober 9, 2012 

Big money has flowed into Middle Georgia’s most prominent political races, campaign contribution reports filed this month show.

Several races have attracted $100,000 or more worth of donations, including high-profile contests for Bibb County sheriff, state Senate District 26 and the Macon Judicial Circuit’s district attorney post, filings from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission show.

Big war chests don’t guarantee election success, of course. Some of the poorest campaigns have fared well in recent Middle Georgia election history.

David Lucas, the Democratic nominee for Senate District 26, reported that he loaned his campaign $600 and had just $850 cash on hand. In all, Lucas reported receiving about $34,100 in contributions, a chunk of which went to repair his 1973 Plymouth Duster campaign car. Lucas even reported dropping $171.22 on gas in just two days at a single Macon gas station.

But Lucas’ poor gas mileage got him great traction in a tough primary fight against the incumbent, Sen. Miriam Paris. Lucas defeated her in a runoff, even though Paris’ campaign reported that it had about $20,600 cash on hand after taking in nearly $112,000 in contributions.

Paris’ money flowed in from sources as diverse as local businessmen and attorneys to a fund run for the Georgia Optometric Association. In contrast, defeated Democratic challenger Irving Martinez reported no donations and no expenditures.

Lucas’ Republican opposition for the seat, Bobby Gale, reported receiving about $6,500 in donations, leaving him with about $1,300 in cash after expenses.

Another expensive race is the fight between Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney Greg Winters, a Republican, and Democratic challenger David Cooke.

Winters reported donations of about $65,800, but relatively low expenditures, leaving him with about $55,400 cash. Cooke reported more donations, expenditures and cash. He listed about $85,100 in donations, much of it from outside the district, leaving him with about $60,100 cash. Both relied heavily on contributions from attorneys.

The disclosure forms also show some big donations in the race to replace Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena.

Democrat David Davis is now the only candidate remaining on the ballot. He reported contributions of about $118,800 and spending of about $92,600 on the race.

A former Democratic candidate, Bill Lucas, reported loaning his campaign nearly all of its money, about $10,500, which was matched against about $2,000 in donations. Another Democratic candidate, Albert Hall, reported donations of about $12,500 through the race.

Shawn Fritz, a Republican who dropped out of the race after Davis won the Democratic primary, filed a report but it wasn’t available online.

The campaign finance disclosure forms also show how badly two men want to be the Bibb County Board of Commissioners’ final chairman before the government consolidates with that of Macon.

Democratic incumbent Sam Hart and Republican challenger Tom Wagoner have each loaned $25,000 to their campaigns. Wagoner has gotten about $16,000 in contributions, leaving him about $10,800 cash.

Hart, meanwhile, reported relatively little income or donations in the last few months, but his overall campaign tallied about $124,500 in donations and $109,500 in expenses. With the loan, he has about $40,000 cash remaining.

In other races:

• Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen, a Democrat, reported earning and spending nothing in the District 4 commission race. Republican challenger Robert Abbot loaned his campaign about $300 to buy campaign materials and has collected $250 in donations.

• School board incumbent Sue Sipe reported raising less than $1,000 to keep her District 3 post. She defeated a Democratic challenger, Merritt Johnson, whom the state says did not file a campaign disclosure report. Next month, Sipe will face Republican Angela Freeman, who reported raising about $3,000.

• In the Bibb school board’s District 4 race, Republican Lester Miller reported loaning his campaign $8,000 and raising about $5,300, leaving him about $4,000 cash after expenses. The state says Democrat Dominique Johnson has not filed a campaign disclosure form.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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