NASHVILLE — Unlike his state Senate District 10 primary battle with rival Republican Greg Vital in August, GOP nominee Todd Gardenhire holds the decided money edge in his Nov. 6 race with Democrat Andraé McGary, filings show.
The Chattanooga investment adviser had more than double the available cash as McGary as of Sept. 30.
Gardenhire reported a $51,478 cash balance compared with $19,912 held by McGary, a Chattanooga city councilman, according to disclosures filed last week with the state's Registry of Election Finance.
And judging by Senate majority Republicans' bulging coffers, Gardenhire has plenty of room to grow if he gets into a jam. The Senate Republican Caucus has given him $32,417 since his bitter Aug. 2 primary with Vital. And Gardenhire reported an additional $32,417 in in-kind contributions from the caucus.
And Republicans have lots more if necessary.
The latest reporting period -- July 24 through Sept. 30 — included the final days of the GOP primary.
Gardenhire reported raising $78,520 in direct contributions, most of it after the Aug. 2 GOP primary as money went to the winner. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, for example, weighed in five days after the primary with $5,000.
AGL Resources, which owns Chattanooga Gas, weighed in with $1,000 through its PAC. JMS PAC, run by national payday-loan magnate Alan Jones of Cleveland, Tenn., gave $1,000.
The Republican spent $79,171 during the reporting period. Most of that related to the final days of his primary with Vital as bills for television ads, direct mail, polling and other campaign expenses came due.
The candidate also lent his campaign $61,135 in the final days of the primary, bringing his total loans to $147,340. Vital lent his campaign more than twice that.
As new money flowed in to the nominee, he paid himself back $20,000, records show.
McGary raised $27,720, all but $1,245 of it coming in after his Democratic primary with Quenston Coleman and David Testerman.
About $7,700 of that came from Olan Mills II and family members. Mills formerly was chairman of Olan Mills Inc., a national portrait studio. The Plumbers & Pipefitters' PAC gave $5,000, and the state's AFL-CIO PAC gave $2,500. Other donors included 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike McWherter and local architect Thomas Faulkner.
But the embattled Senate Democratic Caucus is focusing its resources elsewhere and hasn't given McGary a dime.
McGary reported spending $8,743, much of it appearing to stem from the primary. He still has $4,450 in unpaid obligations going back as far as May.
The Democrat last week publicly complained that the current holder of the Senate seat, Democrat Andy Berke of Chattanooga, has not helped him with contributions or introducing him to his substantial network of donors.
Berke, who is running for Chattanooga mayor, a nonpartisan position, said he intends to vote for McGary.
Republicans conducted major surgery on the once-Democratic leaning district this year, which now includes parts of Hamilton and Bradley counties. The district now leans Republican.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...