Election 2016: Here’s what each candidate raised in District 65


Election 2016: Here’s what each candidate raised in District 65

Democrat Holly McCall raked in the most money for her campaign in the second quarter in the House District 65 race, beating out her two Republican opponents.

Out fundraising both of her Republican contenders, Democrat Holly McCall raked in the most money for her campaign in the second quarter in the House District 65 race.

Candidates were required to file their campaign disclosure reports to the registry by July 11 at midnight. McCall raised just a little over $54,000 since she filed her papers to run for the seat in April. She faces no primary candidate in August, and will face either incumbent Rep. Jeremy Durham or political newcomer Sam Whitson in the general election this November.

“This sends a clear signal voters are tired of partisan bickering and useless legislation, and want someone with common sense who will focus on solution to issues that affect us all – like traffic, the completion of Mack Hatcher and assertively funding our schools,” McCall said.

Some of her more prominent donations came from Franklin’s first female Mayor Lillian Stewart and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and local business leader Wayne Smith of Community Health Systems. Former chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party Chip Forrester also gave to her campaign, along with several area developers.

Raising more than any other Republican candidate, Sam Whitson raised nearly $28,000. His largest contributor came from STAND PAC of Tennessee, which is the same address for Score on 18th Avenue South in the First Amendment Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

Score stands for State Collaborative on Reforming Education. According to its website, SCORE was founded by former Sen. Bill Frist in 2009. The group aims to “drive collaboration on policy and practice to ensure student success across Tennessee.”

The Franklin Firefighters PAC also nudged his campaign total, donating $2,000.

Whitson earned a nod from House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick in the form of a $1,500 donation. Rod Heller and his wife Kay collectively gave $800. Mr. Heller is working on the $80 million Harpeth Square project that could soon break ground in downtown Franklin later this fall. His wife is the owner of a rare print gallery.

Franklin’s Ralph Drury, the CEO of the Drury Group, also contributed $500.

After beginning the filing period with around $13,000 in his campaign fund, Whitson will end with approximately $28,000. He spent $13,000.

“[My wife] Pam and I are humbled by the tremendous support we have received for our campaign over the past several months,” he said.

“We are grateful to those who have donated their time to knock on doors and make phone calls and to those who have committed their financial resources to help us communicate our message of restoring integrity to our 65th District House seat. Of the money raised so far, over 97 percent of our donors are citizens who live and work in Williamson County. I’m proud to have their support. We plan to build upon this momentum as we head into early voting and the last few weeks before Election Day.”

While having the largest fund still remaining, embattled Republican Durham only raised around $16,800 during this filing period. Several of those contributions came in the form of PACs with some individuals providing up to $1,000 to $1,500 checks.

Starting with almost $189,000 in his campaign fund, Durham spent nearly $89,000, primarily with Brandfire Consulting, LLC in the form of direct mail at a price of $42,000. He spent a portion of his money on radio/media with Gill Media out of Brentwood. That totaled to around $21,000. Steve Gill owns the media company and is former host of the Steve Gill Show.

Previously, state officials voted to launch an audit of Franklin Rep. Jeremy Durham’s campaign finances based on a statement by a former employee of the legislator who alleges Durham used funds from his campaign account to pay for the expenses of his title company. The audit is ongoing.

In a June 6 letter sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery stated that a former legislative assistant, campaign worker and employee of Durham’s, Benton Smith, told officials in an interview that Durham provided funds from his campaign to his company, Battleground Title and Escrow, LLC.

The audit and investigation of Durham’s campaign finance account date from 2014 through the current filings for his 2016 campaign. It’s unclear if Durham has provided all of the information for the audit.

“We are still going through all of that information. I am not avoiding the question, but I am not sure if we are going to have request more information,” Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign finance, said.

Durham wasn’t immediately available for comment after and will end out the second quarter with around $122,000.

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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