Monday, September 25, 2023

Political parties spent more than $2.7 million on the NC-7 Senate race

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Campaign financials for the fall election season wrapped last week with one race emerging as the most expensive in the area by far.

The NC-7 Senate competition saw candidates taking in more than $2.7 million from political party committees.

READ MORE: The NC-7 Senate race is breaking campaign spending records with state party money

As of the fourth quarter, Marcia Morgan (D), who lost by 2% to Sen. Michael Lee (R), had the most expensive campaign. She raised $1.9 million total and spent $1.88 million in pursuit of the seat. Lee raised $1.76 million and spent $1.71 million

Both candidates’ biggest donors were their own political parties. The Democratic Party contributed about $1.62 million to Morgan’s campaign. She took in $53,724 from PAC and other campaign donations, as well as $234,000 from individual donors.

Lee received $1.1 million from his party, but outraised Morgan significantly in other areas, with PAC and other money coming in at $173,222 and individual contributions at $480,195.

The two candidates differ significantly in their individual and PAC donors. Morgan’s contributions were dominated by small donations ranging anywhere from $3 to $100. Some of the PACs that supported her were the LGTBQ Victory Fund Federal PAC, which donated $2,000 on Oct. 31. She received 281 contributions in the fourth quarter to Lee’s 44.

Prior to the fourth quarter Morgan accepted money from Lillian’s List, the N.C. OBGYN PAC, the N.C. Sierra Club PAC and the Planned Parenthood Votes N.C. PAC.

Lee’s donors were dominated by a smaller number of large contributions, decidedly different PACs. The Apartment Association of North Carolina contributed $2,000; a clinical research nurse at Wilmington Dermatology Center, Alix Huckabee, contributed $3,000; $3,500 came from the N.C. Hospital PAC; $1,000 from the N.C. Land Title Association PAC; and $2,500 from the OrthoCarolina PA Federal PAC. 

Lee also received $5,000 from U.S. Rep Patrick McHenry’s campaign. Norco Management CEO Joan Norris, Civil Works Contracting president Christopher Scerri and 57 Group managing member Jack Page each contributed the maximum $5,600 to Lee.

Jay Faison, chairman of the Charlotte-based 2040 foundation, contributed $2,000. On Oct. 28. The foundation’s stated mission is to “Accelerate America’s clean energy future with conservative solutions.”

He continued receiving large and maximum contributions from individuals as well, even after the election. A maximum $5,600 contribution from Robert Willenborg, CEO of the gambling company J&J Ventures Gaming was received Nov. 9.

Vin Wells and Brian Eckels, both of Cape Fear Commercial, each donated $2,800 to Lee on Dec. 31. Money received after the election can be used for future campaigns, and Lee can make contributions from his campaign fund to partymates running for office.

Other state campaign finances

Rep. Deb Butler (D-18) spent $309,389 in pursuit of keeping her seat, and defeated Republican challenger John Hinnant with 53.31% of the vote.

Butler’s campaign was mostly funded by individual donors, accounting for $217,000. Her campaign was also heavily funded by other political committees to the tune of $29,000 and loans at $50,000. She received only $10 from the state party.

Her third-quarter donations were mostly small, though she did receive a maximum $5,600 contribution from Replacements CEO Robert Page and a nearly maxed-out contribution of $5,500 from retired nurse Nancy O’Donohue.

Hinnant received considerably less support. He raised $197,310, though he took out no loans. About $114,300 came from individuals with $59,558 from the state GOP and $20,406 from PACs and other committees.

Some of Hinnant’s notable third-quarter donors include Calvin Wells, of Cape Fear Commercial with a $2,000 contribution, $2,000 from H. David Swain of Swain and Associates, $2,000 from Eckel and $1,000 from James Mahan, CEO of Live Oak Bank.

Rep. Ted Davis (R-20), also held on to his seat with 51% of the vote against challenger Amy Block DeLoach. Davis outraised DeLoach $395,190 to her $331,646. They received $185,365 and $126,885 from their parties, respectively. 

DeLoach took in $164,700 from individual donors and $40,000 from PACs and committees. Davis raised $147,300 from individuals and $60,778 from PACs and committees.

Outside of the Democratic Party giving $23,553 to her campaign, DeLoach only had small donors in the fourth quarter.

Bobby Huckabee, CEO of Southland Amusements and Gaming, donated $2,000 to Davis on Oct. 28.

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