Campaign disclosures show there is already money in play for the 2020 race for Cobb chairman, with the incumbent trailing early ahead of a possible faceoff in next November’s general election.
Only two candidates have declared their intentions thus far — Republican Mike Boyce, who occupies the chairman’s seat, and Cobb District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid, a Democrat. The latter, however, raised more than $57,500 over the fundraising haul of the incumbent within the six-month reporting period ending June 30.
“My priority right now is leading the government,” Boyce said Friday when asked if he was concerned with the fundraising by his potential general election opponent.
“If I had the time to go out and raise additional funding, I would do that,” Boyce added. “But my focus is totally on getting this budget through, continuing to fund all the services people expect and to serve the people. There’s going to come a time to campaign, and for me, that will be later in the fall and of course next year, but right now, I’m not going to be distracted by running a campaign.”
Boyce’s report shows that his campaign brought in $21,800 in contributions but spent nothing during the first six months of 2019, leaving him with $27,059 in his coffers.
Among the incumbent’s donations were $2,500 from United Community Bank, $1,000 from Gas South and $1,000 from Victoria Moreland of construction firm Moreland Altobelli.
Tom and Betty Phillips of northeast Cobb each contributed $2,600, while Ralph and Benita Cohen of east Cobb, whose listed occupations were dentist and dental hygienist, respectively, each donated $2,800.
Cupid’s campaign balance through June 30 was $71,125 after bringing in about $79,321 in contributions. Among the largest were from Marietta law firms: $2,800 from Barnes Law Group and $2,600 from Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli. John Wieland of general contractor JW Collection also gave $2,600. Another $250 came from Debra Blair, who previously served as a staff attorney for Cobb County Government but now works for Marietta-based law firm Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers.
Other elected officials also gave to Cupid’s cause: $1,000 came from David Scott for Congress, while another $1,000 came from Cobb school board member Jaha Howard.
Cobb County’s new Chief Magistrate Court Judge Brendan Murphy donated $250, as did Powder Springs Councilman Henry Lust, while $101 came from Ollie Clemons, acting mayor of Austell. Former Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Evans, who previously served as one of Cobb’s state representatives, contributed $1,000.
Cupid’s campaign spent $8,196 during the reporting period, with the most notable expenses being a nearly $1,300 bill to Embassy Suites on Akers Mill Road for her campaign kickoff in April, with two expenses totaling nearly $4,900 for fundraising consulting from Atlanta-based Slingshot Strategies.
An unknown factor in the race is whether either declared candidate will face any primary challengers. As its stands, no other candidates have filed a declaration of intent to seek the chairman’s office.
But District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott has been floated as a possible challenger to Boyce in the Republican primary, and edged out the incumbent Boyce in a July 4 straw poll at the annual Cobb GOP Independence Day celebration held at the Civic Center. Ott won with 103 votes to Boyce’s 79.
Ott’s campaign disclosure for the period ending June 30 lists “County Commissioner, District 2” in the space provided to name the office held or sought. He raised $55,000 during the disclosure period and had a net balance of $55,217 on hand, spending only $300 on a sponsorship to the Republican Party of Cobb County.
Donations of $2,600 and $1,000, respectively, went toward Ott from principal Richard Lee and partner Susan Hampel of Atlanta-based developer Branch Properties. Rock Ivy Partners builders gave $2,700, as did Eric Kline, who was listed as an owner of the Eclipse di Luna restaurant.
More donations of $2,700 came from engineering from Planners & Engineers Collaborative of Norcross; Lao & Associates, a Duluth accounting firm; Atlanta-based architecture and interior design firm Preston Partnership; and Summit Contracting Group of Jacksonville, Florida.
Attorneys also donated to Ott’s war chest, including Kevin Moore of Marietta-based Moore Ingram Johnson & Steele, who gave $2,600, while $2,700 came from Brian Cain of the Cumberland-based firm Holt Ney Zatcoff & Wasserman. Another $500 came from Bentley, Bentley & Bentley, which is based in Marietta.
“I’m happy with the amount we raised, it’s a good number, it’s within the range that I was told by my consultant I needed to raise, and so thus we did,” Ott said, but he declined to address the issue of whether or not he would seek the office of chairman.
Should Ott remain in contention for his commission seat, he has a challenger waiting in the wings. In mid-June, Democrat Jerica Richardson of east Cobb filed a declaration of intention to accept campaign contributions for the District 2 seat but had not reported any campaign contributions through the end of the month.
The next round of campaign contribution reports will run through Dec. 31, 2019.
Qualifying for county, state and nonpartisan offices will be March 2-6, 2020, with primary elections set for May 19, with primary runoffs, if needed, to occur July 21, according to Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler. The general election will be Nov. 3, 2020.