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Election fundraising scales overwhelmingly tip to Brown

NATCHEZ — Two mayoral candidates still in the race for City Hall have raised a combined $133,528.48, but the political fundraising scales are certainly leaning one way.

Larry L. “Butch” Brown has raised more than 80 percent of the funds, cashing in at $111,030 since he started fundraising before the May primary.

Bill Furlow has raised the remaining $22,498.48.

Click here for detailed list of campaign finance reports submitted Tuesday

Click here for detailed list of campaign finance reports submitted on April 25, 2012

Brown has spent $98,949.79 so far in the race; Furlow has spent $18,962.92.

Campaign finance reports were due at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Furlow said fundraising against opponents — Brown and current Mayor Jake Middleton, who lost in the primary — with such deep roots in the community has been more difficult than he anticipated.

“The budget I thought was a middle-of-the-road budget is way out of reach for me,” Furlow said.

But a lack of money hasn’t stopped his campaign, and Furlow doesn’t think funding will determine Tuesday’s general election.

“I’d rather have more money,” he said. “But I think that if there is a good side to this outrageous disparity, it is that it has forced me to work hard and go out and meet with hundreds or thousands of people face to face.”

Brown admitted that the amount donated to his campaign surpassed his own expectations.

“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have wanted to support my candidacy,” he said. “In the past, we thought we raised some significant funds, but this is probably double. It’s given us an opportunity to put on a real nice, professional campaign.”

Brown’s contributions include approximately $50,000 from in-town donors and $50,000 from out-of-town donors. The remainder of his funds came in small donations that did not have to be itemized.

Brown’s biggest in-town donor remains D.A. New, who contributed $5,000.

Brown’s most recent campaign finance report includes several large, out-of-town donations including:

• Mike Worley, Zachary, La. — $5,000

• Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Jackson — $2,500

• Mississippi Building Trade Union, Jackson — $5,000

• Kristi Sims, Jackson — $5,000

• International Brothers Electrical Workers, Jackson — $2,500

Furlow said large donations to the Brown campaign raise concerns for him.

“There really is a question here, can the Natchez mayor’s office be bought?” he said. “There’s also a question of who had an interest in seeing who becomes mayor.”

But Brown said donors to his campaign care only about the future of Natchez.

“I don’t think anybody believes that Butch Brown can be bought,” he said. “I think people are trying to send a message to the voters of Natchez. It’s time we step up and do something differently to take this little town that’s a gem and make it something new, bigger and better.”

Furlow’s biggest contribution — also the biggest single donation in the entire race — was $10,000 from Diane T. Scruggs, the wife of Furlow’s cousin, Dickie Scruggs.

His other out-of-town donors contributed a total of $1,500. His in-town donors contributed $6,400. Remaining contributions were non-itemized.

“It’s really going to be an interesting test to see if money trumps effort or vice versa,” Furlow said. “Clearly he has outspent me, and clearly I have outworked him.”

Brown disagreed.

“I’ve been visible; I’ve been out there; I’ve been at every forum, every meeting; I’ve been to every church he’s been to,” Brown said. “I’ve been knocking on doors in every neighborhood.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.