It’s no secret that big money powers high profile political campaigns, but sometimes local races are just … local.
A review of the latest campaign finance reports filed by some Floyd County candidates provides a snapshot of the different variables that can come into play.
District Attorney Leigh Patterson — who is unopposed for reelection — has just over $200 in her campaign account.
She’d been sitting on $75.70 since last July, when she spent $365 on the cakes she brings to law enforcement officers every Independence Day.
With an election looming, she brought the balance up to $3,875.70 in February. Donations came from Linda Jean Evans of Silver Creek, $1,200, and Harry and Teri Pierce of Lindale, $2,500, plus another $100 in smaller, nonitemized contributions.
Patterson paid her qualifying fee of $3,674.20 in March and recorded no further financial activity as of April 30.
Campaign finance reports due in early May were the last to be filed before the June 9 elections. However, any candidates who take in more than $1,000 in donations now must file supplemental reports within two days of receipt.
Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach also keeps a low balance in his “war chest.” He’d had $46.43 in his account since his last election four years ago.
Between Jan. 31 and April 30 he took in $4,350, including a $400 loan from himself. Donations ranging from $250 to $800 each came from eight local law firms, plus $50 that was unitemized.
Niedrach, who also is unopposed for a new term, paid a qualifying fee of $3,863.70. He was left with $532.73 cash on hand — but had not yet paid back his personal loan.
While sitting judges are rarely challenged, a vacancy stemming from Superior Court J. Bryant Durham’s decision not to run for reelection sparked a flurry of activity.
Durham had zeroed out his campaign account in early 2017, following his last election.
Within two months of Durham’s retirement announcement in mid-May 2019, Rome attorney Bryan Johnson had raised $32,000 to campaign. His donors ranged from local attorneys to businesses and individual residents.
Johnson had over $50,000 by the end of the year, with a few Atlanta law firms kicking in but still mainly local donations. He’d amassed $62,081.98 by Jan 31 and took in another $260 between then and April 30.
By the time the qualifying period rolled around the first week of March, the strength of Johnson’s campaign fund left him unopposed for the seat.
After paying his $3,863.70 qualifying fee and $309 for campaign ads and incidental expenses, Johnson will be starting his first term on the Superior Court bench in January with more than $57,200 in the bank.
Georgia General Assembly seats typically draw interest from a wider base of potential donors than judicial races.
Still, state House Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, reported just $8,889.19 cash on hand as of April 30.
The first-term lawmaker is unopposed this year for the District 14 seat he won in a heated contest in 2018. It will be 2022 before he has to run for reelection again.
Scoggins had $9,298.19 going into the legislative session at the end of January. He reported spending $400 on his qualifying fee in March and $9 on incidentals.
Legislators are barred from accepting contributions during the 40-day annual session, which is still running.
The General Assembly suspended activity March 13, at the end of the 29th day, due to the coronavirus public health emergency. A return date has not been formally announced but they’re expected to return by mid-June.
Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, is the only member of Floyd County’s legislative delegation with a challenger in the June 9 primary election.
Lawmakers in some other areas of the state are facing tough battles with their ability to raise money on hold. However, Dempsey reported just over $52,200 in her campaign chest as of April 30 — compared to about $1,240 for challenger Brad Barnes.
Dempsey’s spending for the period between Jan. 31 and April 30 came to just over $6,800 — mainly on rent for her Atlanta apartment used for legislative work, charity donations, campaign mailers and calls.
Barnes got into the District 13 race in March with $2,650 of his own money and about $314 in small, unitemized donations. He spent about $1,724 on the $400 qualifying fee, campaign signs, a website and supplies.
Democrat J. Scott Fuller qualified in March to run for the seat but then withdrew from the race. He has filed no campaign finance reports with the State Ethics Commission.