Haslam opens wallet further; McWherter unsure

Haslam opens wallet further; McWherter unsure

October 12th, 2010 by Andy Sher in Politics

NASHVILLE - Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam dipped into his personal wealth for another $2.8 million during the latest reporting period, but Democrat Mike McWherter said Monday it is too soon to say if he will add anything beyond the $1 million he put in last spring.

Haslam's campaign says he will report to the state Bureau of Ethics and Election Finance that he had third quarter contributions of $3.15 million from donors. The Knoxville mayor also reached into his back pocket yet again to put down an additional $2.8 million.

It is unclear from the summary figures what Haslam spent in his final Aug. 5 GOP primary push to beat GOP rivals Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey and what he has spent so far in the Nov. 2 general election. The third quarter reporting period extends from July 27 to Sept. 30. Disclosures are due today.

As of Sept. 30, the Haslam campaign said the candidate had $1.75 million in cash on hand and he continues to raise funds in his Nov. 2 contest with McWherter. The campaign said he has raised a total of $12.5 million from contributors.

He has put in $4.25 million in personal funds over the course of his nearly 22-month campaign. He has repaid himself $760,000 of that, and is reporting a cash balance of $1.75 million.

"Early voting is here, and Crissy and I are grateful for the support we've received during the last two years," said Haslam, whose family owns a majority stake in a national chain of truck stops, Pilot Travel Centers LLC. "When we set out ... nearly two years ago we put together a plan, and we've been able to execute that plan. Now we're focused on early voting and finishing strong through Nov. 2."

Early voting begins Wednesday. The latest public poll, taken last month, shows Haslam leading by double digits. McWherter has lagged in fundraising.

McWherter had not released third quarter totals. But the Jackson, Tenn., beer distributor said Monday he has not put any additional personal assets into his effort since injecting $1 million on March 31.

"I may," McWherter said following a tour of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in Nashville. "I always wanted to make sure we were getting our message out all through the month of October. And if it's necessary to add some additional funds toward the end of the month, I'll do that to make sure that we keep our message up."

He said it "will depend on how our fundraising goes between now and then."

According to McWherter's July 29 preprimary disclosure, he made a $232,732 television ad buy. McWherter, who faced no primary opposition, reported having $1.27 million in cash on hand as of July 26.

He said Monday he spent "several hundred thousand" in about a 20-day period starting before the Aug. 5 primary and immediately afterward.

He only began his fall television advertising on Friday.

"We've been marshalling our assets and continuing to do fundraisers through August and September and up through this reporting period," he said, citing a recent South Pittsburg event as an example. "So it has not been necessary [additional personal expenditures] for what our plan was to get our media out. But if it does become necessary, then yes, I will fill whatever gap needs to be filled in order to make sure we stay up."