by Bob Geary
Updated Friday, September 4 and again Tuesday, September 8.
Times are tough, I know. And yes, we all deplore the sway of big money in politics. But c'mon, if you can't raise any money from anybody, isn't that kind of an indication that you, uh, don't have any supporters? Either that or you're not very good at asking people for help -- which, money aside, is a bad trait in a public official.
And on that score, the early returns from our Raleigh City Council candidates, when I perused them yesterday, were pretty punk. Doesn't John Odom have any friends? I know he does, but they're not giving him anything. Lee Sartain? James West? Seriously, with early voting starting in two weeks, these guys ain't -- to quote my old football coach -- showin' me nothin'.
(Fyi, campaign fundraising and spending reports were due to be delivered or postmarked to the Wake Board of Elections Tuesday. On Wednesday, some had arrived, some hadn't. I'll check again today as time permits, but despite the fact that we are now nine years into the 21st century, these reports aren't available online. To see them, you have to trundle downtown to the BOE office and break out the looseleaf binders.)
And now for the early returns:
If you've clicked down to see the District D numbers, neither Thomas Crowder's report nor Ted Van Dyk's was in.
(Update: Friday afternoon, four days after the due date -- Crowder is in, Van Dyk still not in. Crowder raised $5,094 over the last two months for a total of $25,956 this election year. He's spent $9,017 so far, and has $18,571 on hand -- counting funds leftover from the '07 campaign -- as of August 26, when the reporting period ended.
(Update II: Tuesday afternoon--Van Dyk is in, but only after some confusion at the BOE which caused them to call and ask TVD for another copy. Van Dyk sent his report by certified mail on September 1, seven days ago, he says, and the BOE marked it accordingly.. Yet another reason for the BOE to join the 21st century and do this all electronically?
(Van Dyk raised has raised $20,626 and reported cash on hand of $13,232. His biggest contributor is Glenwood South restauranteur Niall Hanley -- listed as the owner of Solas. Crowder's biggest is downtown developer Greg Hatem, head of Empire Properties and a restauranteur himself (Sitti and The Pit, among others); Hatem, too, was good for $2,500.
(Also, in District E, where Philip Isley is stepping down, Isley's chosen successor, Bonner Gaylord, has raised $16,995 and, frugal fellow that he is, he still has $16,886 in the bank. His opponent, Waheed Haq, signed the form saying he would raise and spend less than $3,000, which means he doesn't have to file anything else until the election is over.
(In the "race" for mayor, Mark Enloe and Gregg Kunz also filed the <$3,000 form; Larry Hudson II has filed nothing. Mayor Charles Meeker raised a grand total of $1,225 over the last two months, giving him an election year total of $39,573; he's spent $43,308 -- including $12,000 on campaign consultant Perry Woods -- and, together with the leftover '07 money he retained, he has $23,553 remaining with which to fend off the fierce challenges of his mystery trio of opponents. End of Update)
In District B, where former Councilor John Odom, a conservative Republican, is trying to win his old seat back from first-term Democrat Rodger Koopman, Odom reported raising $350 through August 26, the cutoff date. His expenditures at that point were exactly $11.05 -- for what, I couldn't tell (maybe a checkbook?). Koopman was not exactly burning up the track, either, with $2,450 raised at that point. But his campaign is somewhat flush because of money he's loaned himself; Koopman for Council owes Koopman $24,898.
In District C, incumbent Democrat James West has raised just $1,396. Did he know that nobody was going to run against him? Not to say that the only person who did, Republican Charles Reisinger, is nobody, but a Republican in this district has no essentially no chance. As of yesterday, Reisinger's report hadn't arrived. Update Tuesday: Reisinger filed the form saing he'll raise and spend less than $3,000.).
Which bring us to the at-large race, with four candidates seeking two seats (the top two finishers win). Incumbents Mary-Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson, both Democrats, came in with respectable and not overly flashy totals: Baldwin, at $29,821; and Stephenson, $24,142.
Their two opponents raised far less. Republican Champ Claris, a realtor, reported just $4.394 in contributions, including a $500 check from real estate developer Gregg Sandreuter and $250 from former Mayor Smedes York, owner of York Properties, a real estate firm.
And Lee Sartain? He wants to glance at his report and see a fundraising total of more than $30,000. But $30,000 is the "value" of his own services for putting up a website, in his humble opinion, and another $1,000 is listed as the in-kind value of some nice campaign photos a friend supplied. Beyond that, however, Sartain has a $1,000 check from William Spruill, who lives on N. Boundary Street, and four $100 checks, including one from long-time Boylan Heights neighborhood leader Joe Huberman. That's it.
Baldwin's notable contributors include Ken Eudy, president of the powerhouse lobbying and public relations firm Capstrat, and $1,000 from Sig Hutchinson, a leader in the parks and transit communities.
Stephenson's supporters are less well-heeled, it seems. Lee Folger III, a Cameron Park neighborhood leader, contributed $1,000, Huberman $500, and Bill Holman, arguably the region's leading environmentalist, put in $275. But otherwise, his supporters were on the order of Pam Wilson, my wife, who gave $100. (But that was twice as much as former Council member and now state Treasurer Janet Cowell. She gave $50.)