Statewide campaigns raise cash for campaigns
CHARLESTON — In the next to last reporting period before the January 2020 candidate filing period, precandidates for Board of Public Works offices are working to get financial support for their potential races.
Campaign finance reports for the 3rd quarter of 2019 were due Oct. 7 by midnight. Elected members of the Board of Public Works include governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, and commissioner of agriculture.
Filing for precandidacy allows potential candidates for office to test the waters and start fundraising efforts prior to the candidate filing period that starts Jan. 13 for the primary election filing period. Any precandidate who receives more than $500 in campaign donations must submit the annual report to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.
Race for Governor
The three Republican frontrunners in the May 12 primary are all loaning their campaigns thousands of dollars, while a Democratic candidate for governor continues to dominate with thousands of small donations.
Gov. Jim Justice, who switched from Democrat to Republican in 2017, only raised $13,450 during the 3rd quarter which includes contributions between July and September. So far in 2019, Justice raised $71,100 and has $3,517 in cash-on-hand after expenses. Justice also has $93,767 in unpaid bills. Major donors include Murray Energy Political Action Committee (PAC), the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund, and American Electric Power PAC.
Woody Thrasher, who switched from Democrat to Republican in March to challenge Justice after the governor called for his resignation in 2018, brought in the most donations for the quarter among Republican candidates – $254,330. Year-to-day, Thrasher received $290,715 in campaign contributions. Most of those donations came from three fundraisers: two held in Bridgeport and one held in Charleston.
Thrasher’s fundraising, however, pales in comparison to how much he has loaned his own campaign. So far in 2019, Thrasher has loaned himself $658,774. Much of Thrasher’s spending has been on radio and TV ads to improve his name recognition among Republican and unaffiliated primary voters. After expenses, Thrasher has $12,080 in cash-on-hand.
Michael Folk, a known believer in fiscal conservatism and accountability, has also donated his campaign $91,000 this quarter. Donations to Folk in the 3rd quarter total $8,484 while his year-to-date contributions total $46,627. Folk has the largest amount of cash-on-hand of any Republican governor candidate with $103,542, and also had the most small donors – those donating $250 or less.
On the Democrat primary side, former leader of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition Stephen Smith led all candidates not just for the amount of campaign contributions, but Smith also had the most small donors of any candidate – 4,397 donors total contributing $250 or less.
Smith brought in $149,816 for the 3rd quarter and brought in $450,852 year-to-date. Unlike the Republican candidates, Smith did not loan his campaign any money, and is sitting on $166,866 in cash-on-hand.
Among other Democrats, former Pleasants County economic development official Jody Murphy continues to have a $250 deficit in his campaign account and has raised no money in either the 2nd or 3rd quarters. Boone County State Sen. Ron Stollings, who filed precandidacy Sept. 23, and Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, who filed Oct. 10, will have no reports until the 4th quarter, which ends Dec. 31.
Other Statewide Candidates
In the Secretary of State race, incumbent Republican Mac Warner raised $12,097 for the quarter, with $76,835 in year-to-date contributions and $28.827 of cash-on-hand.
Former Democratic secretary of state Natalie Tennant, who hasn’t listed what office she is running for, raised $3,713 more than Warner in the quarter with $15,810 in contributions. However, Tennant has fewer total contributions at $20,138. Tennant, who is believed to be considering a run against Warner for her old seat, has $19,391 in cash-on-hand.
Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey raised $47,085 for the quarter and year-to-day. Morrisey loaned his campaign $15,000 and has $61,001 in cash-on-hand. Samuel Brown Petsonk, a Democratic challenger and Beckley attorney, raised $63,919 during the quarter and $80,784 for the year so far, with $23,889 in $39,744 in cash-on-hand.
Long-time Democratic State Treasurer John Perdue quickly raised campaign contributions after announcing his reelection effort for a seventh term in July, raising $139,647 for the quarter and the year-to-date through four fundraisers. He has $138,010 going into the 4th quarter. Former Republican Jefferson County delegate Riley Moore raised $24,880 in 3rd quarter contributions and $64,573 in donations year-to-date. He has $49,180 in cash-on-hand.
Republican Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt is going into October with $23,790 in quarterly donations and $82,605 in donations this year and $66,620 in cash-on-hand. Monongalia County state Sen. Bob Beach leads other Democratic primary challengers to Leonhardt with $2,835 in 3rd quarter donations and $22,305 total donations, with $66 in cash-on-hand.
Republican State Auditor J.B. Mccuskey, who so far is unchallenged by either Republicans or Democrats, raised $6,600 during the quarter and $28,395 year-to-date, with $23,448 in cash-on-hand.