Candidates turn in financial statements before primary

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

By Taylor Aswell

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — The final campaign finance reports due prior to Tuesday’s primary election show the top two fundraisers have collected more than $10,000 in contributions.

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Tuesday was the deadline for all pre-election reports, though not all candidates in the race filed the required paperwork.

Circuit Clerk candidate Britt Gibson has grossed the most contributions of any candidate, bringing in $17,333.

“You can’t run a campaign without money,” he said Tuesday night.

Gibson said he received his funding from numerous avenues, with the majority of the funds coming from individuals in the community.

“Once I started contacting people and talking to them about my views, and I was able to get my name out, it all went from there,” he said.

Gibson has also spent more money than any other candidate, $15,824.

“The majority of that went to advertisement on the radio, TV and paper,” he said. “The media was one of my largest expenditures.”

District 2 Supervisor candidate David Carter is among the current leaders in fundraising as well, bringing in $10,360.55 so far.

“I don’t have very many large contributions,” he said. “A lot of my donations were $100 from people around town.”

Carter said many of his contributions came from people who believed in and supported in his campaign.

“I have been encouraged by the amount of people who have shown me support,” he said. “I have also had many people out of state that I know donate, because they believe in me.”

Carter has only spent $2,825.55 of his campaign money so far — he is not on the ballot until Nov. 8 — and he said running for office is a lot more expensive than he thought.

“I was surprised at just how quick the money goes,” he said. “The majority of the money we spent went to radio, TV and print ads.”

Carter said while he may have one of the highest campaign finance totals, he is still trying to focus on the race.

“Money doesn’t make me feel confident in the terms of winning the election,” he said. “Sure the show of support means I have more finances, but money doesn’t vote.”

According to campaign finance reports, Carter’s District 2 opponent, incumbent Henry Watts has not raised any money but has spent $614 as of July 8. Justice Court Judge incumbent Charles L. “Charlie” Vess, who has raised $10,900, said just like Carter and Gibson, the majority of the $7,883.69 he has spent for his campaign also went toward advertising his campaign through the media.

“Campaigning can be expensive, and my opponent made this an expensive election,” he said.

Vess also said he mailed out 3,000 post cards to county residents asking for their support.

“Each card cost just over 50 cents to mail,” he said.

Vess said he started fundraising by first taking out a $3,500 loan to begin his campaign.

“I started with the initial loan, and then was able to start getting money from people as the campaign went on,” he said. “I have run for office many times, and this is the most I have ever raised.”

Vess’s opponent in the justice court judge election, Gary Mullins, failed to turn in his pre-election report by Tuesday’s deadline, but as of July 11 he had raised $7,074 and spent $5,876.

Other races:

– In the District 1 Supervisor race, incumbent Mike Lazarus has received a total of $3,100 in contributions and has disbursed $3,068.38.

His opponent Robert “Bobby” Braswell had raised and spent $2,000 for his campaign.

District 1 candidate Derrick Batteste did not turn in campaign finance reports.

– District 3 candidate Angela Gibson Hutchins received $3,500 in contributions and spent $5,286.64.

Opponent Wilbert Whittley has spent $2,747.43 for his campaign out of his own pocket.

Candidate Rathell P. Smith failed to turn in his campaign finance reports.

– District 5 Supervisor incumbent S.E. “Spanky” Felter has spent $7,101.50 for his campaign out his own pocket.

Opponent Moe Leblanc raised $3,300 and has spent $3,115, while candidate Calvin Butler raised $4,518.81 and spent $4,493.

District 5 candidate Grady B. Wilson failed to turn in a campaign finance report.

The Democrat will publish a complete list of all campaign contributions and expenditures in Saturday’s edition.