Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Greg A. Vital, left, and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger talk while touring The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence Chattanooga in 2020.

NASHVILLE — Republican businessman Greg Vital of Georgetown received $77,400 in political contributions during the first 17 days of July in his special election bid for the Hamilton County-based state House District 29 seat, according to the latest filings with the state.

Vital's haul included $24,800 from McKee family members who own Collegedale-based McKee Foods Corp. At least two spouses did as well, according to his disclosure filed Tuesday with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

After spending $51,000, Vital reported having $45,000 in cash on hand.

Democrat DeAngelo Jelks' pre-primary report was not listed on the state website Friday night. The special election's latest disclosure covers the July 1 through July 17 period.

The Republican and Democratic primary election in the district is this coming Tuesday. Neither Vital nor Jelks have a primary opponent. The two candidates will square off in the Sept. 14 general election. District 29 has a strong Republican lean, covering Ooltewah, Collegedale, the Highway 58 area and Sale Creek.

District 29 was held by the late Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, who died May 15 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. His wife, Joan Carter, was appointed to fill the seat until the Sept. 14 election.

Efforts to reach Vital, a 65-year-old co-founder of Morning Pointe Senior Living and operator of a small buffalo farm, were unsuccessful Friday evening.

Jelks told the Times Free Press by telephone Friday evening as he was driving home from Atlanta following a visit to his mother that he thought his campaign had filed the closure. He said he would check on the status of that when he came home.

Informed of Vital's fundraising and spending, Jelks said his effort is a "data-driven operation. Our calculations don't require that much to win. So the number he's already raised wasn't even on our radar as necessary."

A number of Vital's donors, including the McKee family members, maxed out in contributions, giving $1,600 to the primary election and $1,600 for the general election for a combined $3,200. If unspent, the money contributed for the primary can also be used in the Sept. 14 general election. Vital, who last month loaned his campaign $10,000, contributed $1,600 in this period.

A number of Hamilton County Republican officeholders, as well as several sitting state GOP House legislators, also gave to Vital's effort.

State Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, contributed $500 through her Leadership Pioneers PAC. State Rep. Esther Helton, an East Ridge Republican, contributed $500 from her campaign account. Other state lawmakers contributing included Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, who gave $1,000, while Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, kicked in $500.

Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander contributed $1,000. Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Highlander gave $100. Hamilton County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley gave $500. Coty Wamp, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office's general counsel, gave $100. Oscar Brock, a Tennessee Republican National Committee member recently appointed by Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly as the city's new intergovernmental relations head, contributed $200.

Chattanooga developer John "Thunder" Thornton contributed $3,200, giving $1,500 to both the primary and general elections. Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz contributed $250, as did Tom Griscom, a partner at Q Strategies and a former Chattanooga Times Free Press executive editor and publisher.

Vital's big spends during the period included a $25,700 payment to Buffalo, N.Y.-based Big Dog Strategies for campaign materials and direct mail. The other top expenditure went to The Baker Group, a Nashville-based consulting firm.

Vital, a former Collegedale city commissioner, ran unsuccessfully in 2012 in the Senate District 10 GOP primary in which he and rival Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga squared off. Gardenhire won.

Contact Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.