Primary Campaign Finance Reports Reveal West Virginia Financial Leaders | News, Sports, Jobs
CHARLESTON — Candidates in statewide races have eight days to sway voters, and recent reports on campaign finance show some have more money than others to help with that task.
The 2020 primary report, covering the period from April 1 to May 24, was due late last week. The West Virginia Office of the Secretary of State is responsible for electronic campaign finance reporting for statewide, legislative and judicial races for the state Supreme Court of Appeals, Justices circuit courts and family court judges
The report, reportedly delivered by campaigns to the office of the West Virginia secretary of state after the original May 12 primary election date, provides an overview of the financial situation of the campaigns ahead of the Tuesday, June 9 primary.
The primary election was moved from May to June by Governor Jim Justice’s executive order due to the coronavirus pandemic. Early voting is taking place statewide through Saturday, June 6. Voters can use the coronavirus as an excuse to request an absentee ballot, but the deadline to request an absentee ballot is Wednesday, June 3. The application can be downloaded from GoVoteWV. com.
RACE FOR GOVERNOR
In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Justice led campaign donations during the 54-day period. The Democratic-turned-Republican governor received $52,740 in campaign contributions during the 2020 primary reporting period, bringing it to $629,483 in election donations year-to-date.
Justice, the state’s billionaire businessman, loaned his campaign $1.5 million. Justice also has $188,816 in unpaid bills to various vendors — including properties owned by Justice, like the Greenbrier Resort — bringing his total campaign debt to $1.7 million. Justice has spent $2.1 million on her campaign since the start of the year, leaving her with $50,541 in cash. The Justice Campaign declined to comment for this story.
Former Berkeley County Steward and airline pilot Mike Folk had the second-best campaign return, bringing in $26,982 during the reporting period. The contribution to date was $118,011, with Folk having loaned his campaign $182,100. Total campaign expenses came to $240,560, leaving Folk with $14,408 in cash. A commentary from Folk was not available at the time of going to press.
Woody Thrasher, the engineer and former Commerce Department Justice Secretary before being asked to resign, brought in just $16,796 for the reporting period, adding to his cumulative donations of $452,693. The bulk of Thrasher’s campaign funding comes from loans, with a total of $3.5 million of his own money in the running. Thrasher also had the largest expense receipt totaling $3.9 million. Thrasher has $27,816 in cash in the final week of racing.
“We’ve been focused on winning from day one, and we’re making sure West Virginia now votes for the conservative businessman who shares their values and knows how to create the opportunities that will allow our children to succeed here. at home, “ Thrasher said in a statement.
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango edged out community organizer Stephen Smith in campaign donations for the flag period. Salango, a lawyer and businessman, brought in $140,964 in donations over the 54-day period, compared to $136,633 for Smith.
“We have the momentum and the outpouring of support from the people of West Virginia has allowed our campaign to get Ben’s message across,” said Grant Herring, Salango’s campaign manager. “We are peaking at the most critical time when voters are deciding which candidate is best equipped to get things done for West Virginia families.”
Smith – who announced his campaign 20 months ago – still tops campaign donations year-to-date with $917,443 in mostly modest contributions, compared to $715,627 for Salango. Smith has taken no loans and has no campaign debt, while Salango has loaned his campaign $500,000. Smith also has more cash in hand with $111,718, having spent just $779,225. Salango spent $1.01 million and has $100,630 in cash.
“In the last pre-election fundraising report, we beat our millionaire and billionaire opponents at their own game,” said Katey Lauer, campaign manager for Smith. “When we pledged not to accept PAC money, the wealthy Good Old Boys Club told us we could never compete in fundraising. Thousands of West Virginians have proven them wrong. We are early.
Behind Smith and Salango in the fundraiser was Boone County physician and State Senator Ron Stollings, who raised $20,865 during the period and $246,098 in contributions year-to-date. . Stollings has loaned his campaign $40,000, spent $251,993 and has $33,242 in cash. A request for comment from the Stollings campaign was not returned.
OTHER STATEWIDE RACES
Two-term Republican attorney general Patrick Morrisey has no primary challengers. His Democratic challengers include Beckley’s public interest attorney Sam Brown Petsonk and Isaac Sponaugle, Pendleton County.
Petsonk, who has campaigned the longest, brought in $33,870 during the reporting period for a grand total of $212,329 in mostly small dollar donations. Petsonk loaned his campaign $75,000, spent $190,559 and has $46,464 in cash. Sponaugle, who entered the race five months ago, has raised $22,510 in the reporting period, for a total of $69,485 in donations since the start of the year. Sponaugle loaned his campaign $100,000, spent $41,889 and has $127,596 in cash.
State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt is seeking a second term as the state’s top farmer, but his main challenger is Cabell County farmer Roy Ramey. Leonhardt significantly overtook Ramey, bringing in $12,975 for the period and $151,092 in total contributions. Leonhardt spent $66,534 and has $83,162 in cash. Ramey has only raised a total of $3,580 since the start of the year with $1,040 in donations for the period. Ramey loaned his campaign $500, spent $2,254 and has $976 in cash.
There are three Democrats in the primary for Agriculture Commissioner, including Monongalia County State Sen. Bob Beach and former Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Dave Miller. Beach has raised $4,100 during the reporting period for a year-to-date total of $28,096. Beach spent $21,404 and has $4,273 in cash. Miller raised $135 during the period and has received $3,960 in donations year-to-date. After spending $3,906, Miller had $55 in cash.
SUPREME COURT OF WEST VIRGINIA
The June 9 primary will decide the winners of three seats on the state’s nonpartisan Supreme Court.
In Division 1, Chief Justice Tim Armstead is seeking a full 12-year term after winning a special election in 2018. Armstead raised $35,259 during the reporting period for a total of $166,751 in donations since the start of the year and no campaign loans or debt. After spending $10,989, Armstead has $151,784 in cash.
Armstead is being challenged by Marshall County Circuit Court Judge David Hummel and former state Supreme Court Justice Richard Neely. Hummel raised $27,100 during the period, giving it $144,414 in donations since the start of the year. The Hummel campaign spent $90,217, leaving him with $21,244 in cash.
Neely raised just $14,225 during the period for a total of $101,103 in donations since the start of the year. Of the three, Neely is the only one to loan out his campaign money, writing a check for $501,866. After spending $586,553, Neely has $12,736 in cash.
In Division 2, the winner will take the seat of Justice Margaret Workman who declined to seek another term. Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit leads the money race, taking home $68,825 for the period and $336,565 year-to-date. Tabit loaned his campaign $15,000, spent $77,471 and has $271,984 in cash.
His closest competitor in fundraising is Putnam County Assistant District Attorney Kris Raynes with $16,541 in donations for the period and $40,512 in total donations. After spending $24,829, Raynes has $9,336 in cash. Former Raleigh County State Senator Bill Wooten raised $5,701 for the period and $11,451 in total. After investing $456,571 of his own money, Wooten has spent $474,217 and has $1,204 in cash. Kanawha County Family Court Judge Jim Douglas raised $849 during the period and $4,061 in total. Douglas has loaned his campaign $105,925, spent $83,657 and has $26,329 in cash.
In the Division 3 special election to fill the remaining four years of former Justice Allen Loughry’s term, the man who was nominated to replace him – the former Raleigh County Circuit Court judge John Hutchison — is leading the fundraiser even after losing several union endorsements after siding with the Supreme Court majority to uphold the state’s Right to Work law. Justice Hutchison raised $33,146 for the reporting period, for a total of $280,997 in donations since the start of the year. After loaning his campaign $15,000, Hutchison has spent $249,126 and has $44,979 in cash.
Hutchison is being challenged by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lora Dyer and Charleston attorney Bill Schwartz. Dyer has raised $2,100 during the period and $14,656 since the start of the year. She loaned her campaign $762, spent $12,520 and has $2,902 in cash. Schwartz did not raise any money for his campaign. After loaning his campaign $100,000, Schwartz has spent $23,011 and has $76,989 in cash.
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]