Local GOP fundraising quadruples Democrats’ efforts
By Josh Bergeron
SALISBURY — More so than Democrats, local Republicans in 2016 won on local ballots and, overwhelmingly, in checkbooks.
Bolstered by the creation of a building fund, local Republicans’ fundraising advantage in 2016 turned out better than the lopsided results at the ballot box. The Rowan County Republican Party outraised local Democrats by a 4-1 margin, according to an analysis of finance reports ending Oct. 22. In many partisan races, by comparison, Republicans won by 2-1 margins.
The latest available finance reports show local Republicans raised roughly $33,200, including a recently created building fund, by the end of the third quarter of 2016. After the third quarter ended, Rowan Republicans also received a $2,500 check from PITA Raleigh LLC, which is registered to Salisbury attorney Bill Graham.
During 2016, local Democrats raised just $7,080.74 by the end of the third quarter, according to an analysis of finance reports. Local Democrats didn’t have a building fund until last week, according to Rowan Democratic Party Chairman Geoffrey Hoy.
When asked about the significant difference in fundraising, Rowan Republican Party Chairman Stephen Kidd attributed it to planning. Specifically, Kidd listed a new golf tournament and the party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner as helping with fundraising totals. Finance reports show the party’s building fund — used for rent, utilities and other headquarters-related expenses — boosted totals by several thousand.
However, instead of increasing fundraising totals above the usual levels, the building fund seems to have split the normal totals into two groups. Republicans’ best efforts came in 2008, when Kidd was also chairman. By the end of 2008’s third quarter, Republicans had raised about $36,000.
Kidd said he didn’t think fundraising totals have a significant affect on local election results.
“I think honestly the results are going to be the results regardless,” Kidd said.
The local Democratic Party paid rent for its building through its main account. Unlike past years, Democrats’ coordinated campaign in 2016 didn’t pay rent for a local party headquarters, Hoy said.
When asked about the year in fundraising, Rowan Democratic Party Chairman Geoffrey Hoy would only compliment his party’s organization in 2016.
“I’ll put it this way: I’m pleased with the resurgence of support in the Democratic Party in both numbers of people involved in the campaign as well as the response following the election,” Hoy said.
In 2016, contributions to Republicans from individuals include many of the usual suspects and elected leaders.
Some of the individuals who contributed to the Rowan County Republican Party in 2016 include: Republican National Committeewoman Ada Fisher; businessman and former Rowan Republican Chairman John Leatherman; Sheriff Kevin Auten; Judge Marshall Bickett; State Rep. John Blust, a Republican from Greensboro; County Commissioner Mike Caskey; Rowan County Elections Chairman and business owner Dave Collins; Rowan-Salisbury School Board Vice Chairman Dean Hunter; Granite Knitwear President Mike Jones, County Commissioner Craig Pierce; School Board Chairman Josh Wagner; and County Commissioner Judy Klusman.
State legislators Carl Ford, Harry Warren, Tom McInnis and Andrew Brock used campaign funds to contribute to the Rowan County Republican Party. Many other candidates, including Congressman-elect Ted Budd, also used campaign funds to contribute to the Rowan Republican Party.
The building fund mostly received contributions from businesses.
The following businesses contributed to the building fund: Andrews Automotive in Winston-Salem, Gerry Wood Automotive in Salisbury, Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds’ insurance business, Ralph Baker’s Shoes in Salisbury, County Commissioner Craig Pierce’s construction business, Chandler Concrete Company in Burlington, Godley’s Garden Center in Salisbury, John Leatherman Insurance in Salisbury, the Mark W. Byrd Agency in Salisbury and Thelma’s Down Home Cooking in Salisbury.
Some of the notable names who contributed to the Rowan County Democratic Party include: former County Commissioner Raymond Coltrain; 2016 county commissioners candidate Veleria Levy, who contributed personally rather than through her political campaign; former state legislator Lorene Coates; and local attorney Mona Lisa Wallace. Two of the plaintiffs in Rowan County’s prayer lawsuit also contributed to the Rowan County Democratic Party.
Similar to fundraising, there’s a vast difference in spending between the two local parties. Two of the largest Republican expenses individually, are more than Democrats raised over the entire year, according to an analysis of finance reports. In March, local Republicans spent nearly $7,800 with the Event Center on Webb Road for their annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner fundraiser. That’s in addition to $1,000 spent with the facility in January. In October, the Rowan GOP shelled out $8,100 to the state party for a “coordinated expense.”
Kidd mentioned another significant expense — a flyer with endorsed candidates that the party mailed to 32,000 houses in Rowan County. The party also printed 20,000 of the flyers to hand out at the polls.
Although County Commissioner Pierce, personally and through his business, contributed to the local Republican Party, the sum of money is offset by the amount the party paid in rent for space at his building on North Main Street in Salisbury. Reports show the Rowan GOP paid $2,537.14 to Pierce for utilities and rent.
The third quarter of 2016 — from July to October — was the most expensive period for Republicans. It was also the best for fundraising. From July to October, local Republicans raised $13,749.20 and spent 14,380.42. Leftover money from prior reporting periods makes up the gap between fundraising and expenses.
For Rowan County Democrats, the largest, single expense came in June, when the Rowan County Democratic Party paid $1,315.72 to Divine Catering in Charlotte. Rent was another expensive item. Third quarter reports show Rowan County Democrats paid Wallace Realty a total of $2,200 to rent the headquarters building on West Innes St.
Hoy says Democrats plan to keep the headquarters building open indefinitely, instead of closing it down after the general election.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.
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