Marcus Wiedower, Republican candidate for the 119th House District seat, raised more than $80,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30, topping all six candidates for Oconee County’s seats in the Georgia General Assembly.
Deborah Gonzalez, Democrat incumbent in House District 117, raised $68,381–more than $20,000 above the $47,987 raised by her Republican challenger, Houston Gaines.
Jonathan Wallace, the incumbent Democrat in House District 119, raised $55,908.
Even with the drop-off in fundraising, Gaines still entered the final campaign period with a massive advantage in funds for his campaign.
Gaines reported having $131,003 available for the final election push. Only Cowsert among Oconee County’s delegation and candidates had more, with $305,195.
Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports
Campaign Finance reports were due with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on Sept. 30, but candidates get a grace period of a week to file.
Cowsert submitted his report on Oct. 3, and Hilliard filed hers on Oct. 4.
All four of the remaining candidates filed on Oct. 5.
All of Oconee County is in the 46th Senate District. Three of Oconee County’s 13 precincts–Athens Academy, Malcom Bridge and Bogart–are in the 117th House District, with the remaining precincts in the 119th House District.
Candidates filed their most recent reports before that Sept. 30 deadline on June 30.
Wiedower had reported raising only $22,900 in the April 1 to June 30 time period and reported having only $10,746 available on that date.
Wiedower was in a Republican primary contest with Steven Strickland that wasn’t settled in Wiedower’s favor until May 22.
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Wiedower enjoyed considerable fundraising success with the Republican Party establishment in the July 1 to Sept. 30 period, reflecting the desire on the part of the party to reclaim House District 119 after it was won by Wallace in the special election in November of 2017.
Wiedower raised $2,600 in contributions of $100 or less, and he did not report those contributors, as is allowed by law.
Help From Campaign Committees
Of the $78,025 in contributions of $101 or more that Wiedower received, $24,700 came from campaign committees of other candidates.
The campaign committee of Chuck Williams, who held the 119th District seat before stepping down in 2017 to be appointed Georgia Forestry Commission director, gave the allowed $2,600 to Wiedower.
The committee of House Speaker David Ralston gave another $2,600.
Wiedower received $2,700 from various government officials and $4,750 from Political Action Committees.
Wiedower spent $34,117 during the July 1 to Sept. 30 period, with the bulk of that, $27,832, going to War Room Strategies, 3651 Mars Hill Road, for political consulting.
Wiedower reported having $57,151 available to spend in the final five weeks of the campaign.
Gaines Fundraising And Spending
Gaines reported raising $1,895 in small contributions during the July 1 to Sept. 30 period, with the remaining $46,092 in contributions of more than $100.
As had been the case in earlier campaign reporting periods, much of Gaines’ money came from campaign committees and Political Action Committees.
In the Sept. 30 filing, Gaines reported receiving $9,800 from political committees, including $2,600 from Georgia House Republican Trust Inc. of Monroe, in charge of Republican Caucus Secretary and Treasurer Bruce Williamson.
Gaines also received $1,600 from the committee of House Speaker David Ralston.
The Political Action Committee of Georgia Association of Realtors gave $1,600 of the $6,600 he raised from Political Committees.
Gaines spent $85,858 from July 1 to Sept. 30, with $47,306 going to Leading Pointe in Atlanta for consulting. Gaines spent another $4,900 for consulting with Axion Strategies in Kansas City, Mo.
As part of his campaign spending, Gaines reported giving $20,250 to the Georgia Republican Party Inc. of Atlanta and another $2,500 to the Kemp for Governor campaign.
Gaines had $131,003 in unspent funds as of Sept. 30.
Cowsert Fundraising And Spending
All but $825 of Cowsert’s $61,575 in campaign contributions in the July 1 to Sept. 30 time period were greater than $101 in value.
Cowsert received $2,600 from AT&T Georgia PAC, $2,600 from the Georgia Better Government Fund of Atlanta (the PAC of the Atlanta Apartment Association), and $2,600 from Joshua and Susan Barrett of Athens.
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He also received money from the political committees of other legislators, including $1,000 from Jack Hill Senate Campaign of Redville , and from businesses, including $500 from Comcast Corporation of Philadelphia and that same amount from CSX Transportation of Jacksonville.
Cowsert spent $59,480 during the July 1 to Sept. 30 period, with much of that amount money he gave to other political campaigns, including the $2,500 for Wiedower.
Cowsert had $305,195 in unspent going in to the final month of the campaign.
Gonlalez’s Sept. 30 campaign finance report was her strongest to date.
She had raised $48,469 in the Oct. 30 report she filed in 2017 for the special election for the open house seat. Republican Regina Quick stepped down from that seat to take a judgeship.
That Oct. 2017 report included contributions for four months.
Of the $68,318 reported on the Sept. 30 form, Gonzalez stated that $9,385 came from donations of $100 or less. Gonzalez itemized many contributions of less than $101, however, so the $9,385 underestimates the contributions of small donors.
Gonzales received $14,067 from political committees and $12,350 from Political Action Committees and Unions.
Gonzalez’s spending reflected a locally run campaign, with expenditures for office supplies, for phone and Internet service, cell phones, and the like.
She spent $405 with Accurate Append I in Bellevue, Wash., for phone number verification, and $4,500 with Avery Murdie Consulting, Athens, for assistance with campaign management.
As was true in earlier reporting periods, much of her advertising spending was with Facebook.
Gonzalez spent $27,188 in the July 1 to Sept. 30 period and had $63,736 on hand at the end of the period.
Wallace Fundraising And Spending
Wallace reported that $3,911 of the $55,908 he reported for the period ending Sept. 30 came from contributions of $100 or less, but he itemized contributions of less that $101 in his report, so small contributions actually were a larger part of his donations than the report indicates.
Wallace received $8,550 from Political Action Committees and Unions and another $7,950 from political committees of other candidates.
The $34,577 in expenses on the Sept. 30 report reflect a locally run campaign, with many of the items labeled as for “students” who helped with campaign work.
Wallace spent $4,358 for Rachel Bailey, his campaign manager, and $4,500 with Foxhole Strategies of Atlanta for consulting on fundraising.
Wallace reported having $57,207 in unspent funds as of Sept. 30.
Hilliard Fundraising And Spending
Of the $33,459 that Hilliard raised in the reporting period ending Sept. 30, she reported that $11,617 came from donations of $100 or less.
Because she reported many donations of $100 and less on her itemized report, small contributions made up even more of her money received than her reporting suggested.
Hilliard’s largest donation was $1,200 from the Georgia Win List, a Political Action Committee for Democrats based in Atlanta.
Hilliard received a number of contributions of $500 from individuals in the community.
Hilliard spent $10,460 in the Sept. 30 reporting period, with $5,713 going to Lydia Aletraris of Athens for consulting.
Going into the final five weeks of the campaign, Hilliard reported having $47,903 available.
School Board Candidates
Oconee County Board of Education candidates Kim Argo, Amy Parrish, Fran Thompson and Andrea Wellnitz all signed affidavits in March indicating that they would not accept more than $2,500 in campaign funds.
That affidavit dispensed the four from filing campaign contribution disclosure reports.
If, after filing the affidavit, any of these four candidates does receive more than $2,500 but less than $5,000, she will have to file a report on Dec. 31.
If any of these candidates accepts more than $5,000, she will have to file on Oct. 25 as well.
Argo and Parrish are incumbents and Republicans, and they are seeking election to Post 3 and Post 2 on the Board respectively.
Thompson and Wellnitz are seeking election as Democrats to Posts 3 and 2 respectively.
The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce and the Athens-Area Chamber of Commerce are holding a candidate forum from 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) in the 3rd Floor Auditorium of the Medical Services Building, Piedmont Athens Regional, 242 King Avenue in Athens.
Candidates for the 46th and 47th Senate Districts and the 117th and 119th House Districts are expected to attend.
Tim Bryant, news director and conservative commentator for radio station 1340 WGAU, will serve as moderator.
Each candidate will have the chance to give an opening statement before responding to questions posed by Bryant, according to the announcement of the forum.
The questions to be answered by the candidates will be determined in advance. Audience members can submit questions, but it is up to Bryant to ask and even reword the questions.
Candidates are continuing their fundraising efforts.
On Sunday, about 80 people turned out for a Democratic fundraiser at Akademia Brewing Company in Athens.
Dan Matthews, running for Watkinsville City Council, School Board candidates Thompson and Wellnitz, and legislative candidates Hilliard, Gonzalez, and Wallace attended.
The event was billed as for Oconee County candidates, but Dawn Johnson, running in the 47th Senate District, also was included.
I video recorded the comments made by the candidates to provide another opportunity for voters to see and hear the candidates in action.
I had posted the video of the Republican candidates at their open house in August.
The video below is noisy, but it does show the candidates talking to a supportive crowd, as was the case with the open house video.