All three of the current members of the Georgia General Assembly who will be seeking election in Oconee County this year begin the election season with significant funds in their campaign accounts.
Sen. Bill Cowsert had a net balance on hand of $61,248, according to the Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report he filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on Jan. 7.
Rep. Doug McKillip had $50,841 in his Friends of Doug McKillip account, his Jan. 4 filing shows.
McKillip currently represents the 115th House District, but he has indicated he plans to seek reelection in the new 117th House District, which includes the Athens Academy, Malcom Bridge and Bogart precincts in northern Oconee County.
Chuck Williams, chosen in a special election last summer to represent the 113th House District, had $18,578 in his campaign account when he filed his report on Jan. 2.
Williams has indicated he plans to seek reelection in the newly drawn 119th district, which includes all of Oconee County except the three districts that are part of the new 117th.
No one has come forward so far to challenge Cowsert and Williams, but Athens attorney Regina Quick has filed her campaign registration materials with the Transparency and Campaign Finance Committee, formerly known as the State Ethics Commission, to run against McKillip.
Quick will not be required to file a campaign finance statement until the end of March.
Cowsert, Williams, McKillip and Quick are all Republicans.
Quick and McKillip ran against each other in 2006. Quick was the Republican candidate in the 115th District, and McKillip was the Democratic candidate. E.H. Culpepper ran as an independent.
McKillip was reelected in 2008 and 2010 without opposition.
After his election in 2010 and before the General Assembly met, McKillip switched to the Republican Party.
The old 115th District, which was entirely in Clarke County, had a history of electing Democrats.
The new 117th, which includes parts of Barrow and Jackson counties as well as parts of Clarke and Oconee, has a Republican voting history.
Williams’ new district is about evenly split between Oconee and Clarke counties in terms of voter registration, but Clarke dominates in terms of total population..
McKillip and Williams are involved in a controversy in Clarke County now over redistricting for the commission seats, and that could play out in the reelection campaigns.
McKillip and Williams sponsored and voted for legislation that would provide for a nonbinding, advisory referendum in the county on two different district maps, one promoted by McKillip and the existing one favored by the commission itself.
Rep. Keith Heard, a Democrat representing the 114th District in Athens, also sponsored and voted for the legislation.
The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate.
In the 2006 race, McKillip got 52 percent of the vote, independent Culpepper got 25 percent and Quick got 23 percent.
Quick raised $13,400 in that campaign, according to the Dec. 31 campaign finance statement for that year. McKillip raised $107,748.
The most receipt campaign finance reports for McKillip indicated he raised $48,740 in the last reporting period of 2010, with $28,250 of that coming in the form of a loan from Mary Byers, his wife and a fellow attorney. The reporting period ran from Oct. 26 through Dec. 31.
His largest contribution during the period was $2,500 from Civic Justice PAC of Atlanta. Attorney Joel Wooten of Columbus game him $1,000, as did Workplace Injury Network of Atlanta.
McKillip’s biggest expenditures were $8,000 for a poll by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and $5,000 for The Brand Group LLC, political consultants.
He also spent $2,000 for campaign photographs and $2,126 for printing.
Cowsert raised $26,200 during the final reporting period, with his largest contributions of $2,000 each coming from Philip Morris USA of Richmond, Va., and Workplace Injury Network of Atlanta.
His biggest campaign expenditures were contributions to other candidates, including $500 to McKillip and $1,000 to Williams.
Williams raised $8,900 in the final campaign reporting period, with much of it from other candidates.
His biggest expenditure was $11,825 for advertising for his summer campaign and $5,908 to repay a loan he made to his campaign.
Williams reporting raising $70,237 in 2010 and spending $51,656.
Dan Matthews, who ran against Williams as a Democrat in the special election for the 113th last year, reported in his final campaign finance filing that he raised only $1,438 in the campaign and spent all but $179 of that.