Mayor Robert Reichert maintained his fundraising advantage as the election of the Macon-Bibb County consolidated government nears, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state.
Reichert has raised $261,442 in the course of his campaign, with $45,765.18 on hand as of Sept. 9, his report says. That’s more than all five of his qualified rivals combined -- both in total amount raised and remaining cash.
His closest rival, former Mayor C. Jack Ellis, reported raising $55,900, with $11,024.53 still on hand.
Right behind Ellis is Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart, who has raised $50,598.09. But he’s got more money left than Ellis does: $19,201.52 to last until the Sept. 17 election -- and perhaps beyond, if there’s an October runoff.
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Reichert and Ellis weren’t immediately reached for comment Tuesday. Hart, however, discounted the impact of big fundraising on the race.
“It says that people with money support you, but I think it’s actually one vote at a time,” Hart said. “What it means is your ground game has to pick up. When you don’t have the money, you have to find other ways to get to the people.
“I’m pretty satisfied that we’re doing a pretty good job of doing that.”
Former commission Chairman Charlie Bishop comes next, with $18,401 raised and $6,836.34 remaining. Then Commissioner Joe Allen, who raised $10,271.27 and has $779 left. Finally there’s businessman David Cousino, who raised only the $3,000 needed for the office qualifying fee -- all from himself and his family -- and with no money in his campaign account.
Midnight Tuesday was the end of the grace period for reports with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, which were technically due Sept. 2. Those who didn’t file online or have their reports postmarked by then would be liable for a fine.
Voters will choose the first mayor of Macon-Bibb County for a three-year term -- four years in subsequent elections -- and a new nine-member commission. Those offices will replace Macon’s mayor and 15-member council and the five county commissioners. Twenty-five people are running for the nine commission posts.
Many candidates reported on fundraising at the end of June, which would have been the reporting deadline if the election had kept its original July 16 date. The Department of Justice held up that election, and it wasn’t until July 9 that a federal judge agreed to move it to Sept. 17. Qualifying reopened for three days, and three new candidates joined the race while two dropped out. Thirty-one candidates, 14 of them incumbents, will appear on the ballot.
The nine commission districts include one four-way race, five three-way races and three two-way contests.
Bibb County Commissioner Gary Bechtel is opposed by marketing manager Harold Young. Bechtel reports raising $5,571.21, with $3,868.50 on hand, while Young’s report -- apparently mailed in -- is not posted online.
Paul Bronson, a former Macon-Bibb firefighter who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011, reported raising $2,680, with $1,226.25 on hand. Macon Councilman Henry Ficklin has raised $9,272, and has $1,759.71 remaining.
The third candidate in the District 2 race, Councilman Larry Schlesinger, reported raising more money than anyone except Reichert. Schlesinger received $65,705.87 and has $37,151.41 left, according to his report.
Councilwoman Elaine Lucas reported raising $11,150, with $2,539 on hand. Her opponent, former school board member Terry Tripp, does not have a report posted online.
Former Bibb County Commission candidate Mallory Jones III, Councilwoman Beverly K. Olson and former Councilman Theron Ussery are vying for the District 4 seat. Jones’ report says he has raised $20,150, with $3,732.35 remaining. Olson reported raising $9,776.85, with $3,329.15 on hand, while Ussery’s report says he brought in $11,200 and still has $1,101.16.
Bibb County Commissioner Bert Bivins III has no new report on file, but in July he reported raising $4,886.50, with $2,224.51 unspent. Landlord Jon Carson reported raising $1,198.08 then and added $820 more by early September, with $181 still in hand.
Councilman Frank Tompkins, also reporting what he’d raised since his previous report, said he brought in $2,810 and has a campaign debt of $9.25.
Former commission candidate Robert Abbot reports raising $6,940.85, with $458.75 on hand. Sheet-metal mechanic Chhor Chav has no report filed online, while Councilman Ed DeFore has no new report posted since July. He reported raising $3,300 at that time, with $1,480 remaining. Former Macon Finance Director Adah Roberts now reports raising $6,365, with $856.52 on hand.
Software designer Eric Arnold reported raising $1,006, with $133.12 left. Country club manager Barry Bell’s written report is on file with the state, but not posted online; while retired Bibb County sheriff’s Maj. Warren “Scotty” Shepherd reports raising $3,200, with $667.88 on hand.
Former City Council candidate Regina Davis told the state in July that she had raised $1,300 and spent all but $10.42, but she has no later report posted online. Macon Councilman Charles Jones filed a report in July showing no money raised or spent, and neither he nor Councilman Virgil Watkins have any subsequent reports posted on the state website.
Finally, in the controversial race between local activist Al Tillman and City Council President James Timley, there’s no report posted for Tillman, while Timley said he raised $6,195 and has $25.22 on hand.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.