In Rowan’s legislative races, Howard, Warren get off to strongest start in fundraising

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Rep. Julia Howard is leading all legislative incumbents and challengers in cash on hand while Rep. Harry Warren has raised the most money to date, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

The latest campaign finance reports for the second quarter were due in early July, and the period reported spans from Feb. 16 to June 30. The next report will be due Oct. 27 and will include campaign financial activity from July 1 to Oct. 17.

Howard vs. Townsend

Howard, a Republican, currently represents the 77th District, which covers part of Rowan and all of Davie County. She has served for more than 30 years and is seeking her 17th term in the state House.

Howard ended the period with $56,613 cash on hand — money that is still available to be used on campaign expenses. In the most recent reporting period, she received $4,502 in contributions but has raised $40,758 to date during the election cycle. Of those contributions, nearly $38,000 have been from various political action committees, including $5,400 from Duke Energy Corporation PAC and $5,400 from the NC Realtors PAC. Howard has a career as a realtor and appraiser.

To date, Howard has spent at least $35,710 on campaign expenses. Some of those expenses include donations to other candidates and races.

“I always try to help other people having a hard time raising money,” she said. “It’s very expensive to run these races.”

Other contributions include $1,500 from American Airlines PAC, $1,000 from AT&T NC PAC and $1,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield Employee PAC.

At the end of June, Keith Townsend, a Democrat from Mount Ulla who is running against Howard, ended the period with $2,636 cash on hand. All of that came from individual contributions, but Townsend said last week his campaign has now raised $12,248 and has $8,861 cash on hand.

His largest donation is from Betsy Webster, of Mount Ulla, who surprised him with a check for $5,000.

“That really has made a big difference in the campaign,” he said. “It’s been a nice surprise. Really gratifying.”

Despite the pandemic, raising money hasn’t been a struggle for Townsend, he said. Most donations have come from people he knows, including former students who now live in different areas of the country. One of those is a $500 donation from John Hurst, an attorney from Pennsylvania.

Warren vs. Heggins

Warren received $2,025 in contributions during the second quarter reporting period, and ended the period with $13,564 cash on hand. The report shows he has generated $48,480 in contributions. And Warren added that as the election nears, people’s interest in politics has increased along with the amount and frequency of contributions. He declined to provide a more accurate amount of total donations to date.

Some of Warren’s contributions include $2,000 from Duke Energy Corporation PAC, $3,000 from Greg Alcorn of Global Contact Services, $750 from Rowan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds and $250 from Ahold Delhaize USA, which owns Food Lion.

Warren has spent at least $46,567 to date on his campaign.

“I am deeply appreciative of the folks that have given their support financially and for those who have volunteered their time to work on the campaign,” he said. “Because of them, we are right on schedule.”

Salisbury Pro Tem Al Heggins, a Democrat challenging Warren in the House District 76 race, ended the reporting period with $10,750 cash on hand. She has received $14,706 in contributions, with most contributions among local community members. However, a physician from California named Karla Jurvetson donated $5,000 to Heggins’ campaign. Though, Heggins said she doesn’t know her personally.

“I was surprised and happy to receive it,” she said. “I’m very thankful for every donation. I know money is precious right now.”

Heggins added that it’s been tough raising funds during the pandemic. Her campaign didn’t solicit any funds in the early months of this reporting period due to local shutdowns, she said, because “it didn’t feel right.”

Heggins has spent at least $4,000 on her campaign, according to the second quarter reporting period. She noted that she has used local vendors while campaigning to keep funds circulating in the local community.

Ford vs. Ellis

Tarsha Ellis, a Democrat and political newcomer challenging Sen. Carl Ford for District 33, finished the reporting period with $12,677 cash on hand and $12,609 in contributions, all from individuals. Ellis said, to date, her contributions remain around $13,000 but she currently has about $7,000 cash on hand.

“Campaigns are not cheap,” she said. “Every contribution is appreciated. I’m very appreciative of everyone’s generosity.”

Ellis received a penalty letter from the State Board of Elections for not submitting her campaign finance report on time, but the fee was waived. Ellis said she acted as her own treasurer during the primary and didn’t fully understand the reporting process, especially since she didn’t have any money in the race at the time previous finance reports were due.

Her expenditures are currently around $5,000, with most of her expenses spent on advertising her campaign via yard signs and social media.

Ford finished the reporting period with $5,268 cash on hand. And while the report shows he had received $11,075 in contributions during the second quarter, Ford said donations have been steady over the last few weeks and are between $10,000 and $12,000.

Ford noted he hasn’t raised as much money this campaign compared to past elections, adding that “this has been the worst year for fundraising ever” due to the pandemic.

The second quarter campaign finance report shows Ford received $8,050 total in PAC contributions. Among those donations include $5,400 from Duke Energy Corporation State PAC and $1,000 from NC Home Builders Association Build PAC.

Another large donation includes $2,500 from Ryan Armstrong of Huntersville.

“I appreciate every dollar I receive,” Ford said.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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