In Senate race, Ford doubles cash on hand; Townsend spends $10,000 in House campaign

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — In the contest for N.C. Senate District 33, Sen. Carl Ford doubled cash on hand available for his campaign by mid-October while Mount Ulla Democrat Keith Townsend in his House District 77 campaign spent a little less than $10,000 on campaign expenditures.

Third quarter campaign finance reports were due to the state Board of Elections on Tuesday, and include donations and spending from July 1 to Oct. 17.

Townsend is a Democrat challenging Rep. Julia Howard in the House District 77 race, which covers Rowan and Davie counties. His third quarter report shows he began the period with $2,636 cash on hand and ended the period with $3,966 cash on hand. He has spent $9,749 total, all within this reporting period. While Howard said she submitted the reports to the State Board of Elections, they were not available Thursday afternoon.

About 50%, or $4,840, of Townsend’s campaign funds have been used for ads with the Post, Davie County Enterprise-Record, Winston-Salem Journal and Facebook. Other expenses include $2,485 in campaign and yard signs, $82 in food for campaign volunteers and $80 to ActBlue, a nonprofit online fundraising organization for Democratic and progressive candidates.

Townsend received $11,079 in contributions from individuals this reporting period, and $13,715 total for this election. He said all his support came from friends, family members and former students.

“As far as the resources for the campaign, they came solely from donations from individuals,” Townsend said. “Money came to us. That was wonderful. I’ll forever be grateful for that.”

Some of Townsend’s donors include $300 this period James Beard, $250 this period and $500 to date from Beth Bennick and $250 this period and $500 to date from Robert Bennick, a lawyer in Cary. Townsend also received $300 this period and to date from Gerald Hargis, $300 this period and to date from Charles Newsome and $177 this period and to date from Vera Avery, a quality improvement specialist at the Rowan County Health Department.

Townsend said Beth Bennick is a family member, while the other donors are friends.

The only recent records available for Howard include a 48-hour notice that showed a $1,000 donation from NC Chamber PAC and $1,500 from NC Chiropractic Association PAC.

Tarsha Ellis, a Democrat who is challenging Ford for Senate District 33, which covers Rowan and Stanly counties, also submitted her report before the state’s deadline, but it was no available either. The campaign finance department of the North Carolina Board of Elections did not respond by deadline on Thursday to a request from the Post regarding the timeline of processing reports.

Ford’s report shows he doubled his cash on hand by the end of the reporting period, as he began with $5,268 cash on hand and ended it with $10,204 cash on hand. To date, Ford has received $19,638 in contributions from individuals, with $7,902 contributed from individuals in the third quarter reporting period.

His individual contributions include $1,000 from Tom Smith of Salisbury; $250 this period and $500 total from Donna Poteat of Salisbury; $500 from Mark Dalton, an accountant in China Grove; $250 this period and $400 total from Stephen Kidd of Kidd Financial; $400 from Sylvia Andrews; and $250 this period and $325 total from Rowan County Commissioner Mike Caskey.

Ford received $5,504 in PAC contributions this reporting period and $13,554 total to date. The most recent PAC contributions include $2,000 from NC Home Builders Association Build PAC, $2,000 from Northeast Anesthesia Pain Specialists PAC in Concord, $500 from Atrium Health Employees Federal PAC, $500 from Carolina Ready Mixed Concrete Association NC PAC. Like Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, Ford received a $400 donation from REAP PAC, or the Rural Electric Action Program PAC, from the advocacy organization NC Electric Cooperatives.

Additionally, a $100 contribution to Ford’s campaign came from the Committee to Elect Brian Hightower. Hightower is the former East Rowan High School head baseball coach who’s running against former Rowan-Salisbury Schools administrator Kathy Sanborn for the East area seat on the RSS Board of Education. School board races are nonpartisan, and the registered party of those candidates are not included on the ballot.

In addition to donating to the campaign of Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, Howard has also donated $600 total to Ford’s campaign.

Ford said much less money has been raised for his campaign this year compared to past elections due to the ability to only host one fundraiser, which took place on Oct. 1, and the cancellation of several events throughout the year.

Ford’s report shows that he spent $9,519 during this reporting period, but has spent $26,222 total on his campaign to date.

Ford’s campaign spent $1,961 on website fees, flags, magnets, signs and frames, according to the report. Other expenditures include $6,000 in dues for the NC Senate Caucus, $1,000 to the North Carolina Republican House Caucus and $375 to Great American Publishing Co., located on West Innes Street, for a Rowan County Senior Savvy ad.

Ford said everyone in the Republican and Democratic caucuses pays dues that can be used across the state in tighter races. Leadership pays more, he added.

He also said this election is the first time his campaign made “Vote Carl Ford” T-shirts, which is one source of money that “helped pull us along.”

The fourth quarter report for state candidates is due on Jan. 12, and will include activity from Oct. 18 to Dec. 31.

The Post will continue to report on the remaining campaign finance reports as they become available.

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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