Big spreads in Gen­eral As­sem­bly races

In­cum­bents Chuck Huf­stetler and Katie Dempsey have huge fi­nan­cial ad­van­tages over chal­lengers Evan Ross and John Bur­nette.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner DWag­ner@RN-T.com

The so-called in­cum­bent’s ad­van­tage is ap­par­ent in the lat­est cam­paign fi­nance re­ports, where chal­lengers to lo­cal Ge­or­gia Gen­eral As­sem­bly rep­re­sen­ta­tives are lag­ging far be­hind in fundrais­ing.

The elec­tion is set for Nov. 6, with early vot­ing start­ing next week.

Demo­crat Evan Ross is try­ing to un­seat Repub­li­can Chuck Huf­stetler in the state Se­nate district that cov­ers all of Floyd and parts of Chat­tooga, Gor­don and Bar­tow coun­ties.

Ross is a lo­gis­tics man­ager for two lo­cal or­ganic farms run­ning as an anti-politi­cian to rep­re­sent work­ing class peo­ple. Huf­stetler, seek­ing his fourth two-year term, is an anes­thetist at a lo­cal hospi­tal and a for­mer county com­mis­sioner.

Huf­stetler re­ported $174,882 in his cam­paign chest, with more than $43,000 com­ing in be­tween July 1 and Sept. 30 — the pe­riod cov­ered by the lat­est re­ports filed with the State Ethics Com­mis­sion.

In con­trast, Ross had $4,357 left af­ter tak­ing in about $6,000 this pe­riod. So far, he’s re­ported just over $30,000 in do­na­tions, cash and in-kind, since his cam­paign started.

Among the ma­jor donors to Ross in the last three months were Sum­merville at­tor­ney Bobby Lee Cook, $1,000, and Sylvia Hoyt of Savannah, $2,600. His cam­paign is fueled mainly by out-of-state friends and fam­ily and by small donors of less than $100, who pumped in $3,167 since the end of June.

Huf­stetler, who chairs the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, listed more than 100 con­tri­bu­tions of $150 or more. The largest amounts came from Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal cam­paign ac­counts and pri­vate po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees, such as Ge­or­gia Banks As­so­ci­a­tion, Ge­or­gia Al­liance of Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tals, Ge­or­gia Emer­gency Medicine PAC, AT&T,

Ge­or­gia Branch of As­so­ci­ated Con­trac­tors, The Co­ca­Cola Co. and Delta-PAC.

Still, many of Huf­stetler’s con­trib­u­tors are lo­cal vot­ers, in­clud­ing at least 30 con­nected with Harbin Clinic as physi­cians or in other ca­pac­i­ties. He also listed just over $1,300 in small do­na­tions un­der $100 this pe­riod.

Huf­stetler also has spent lit­tle on cam­paign ma­te­ri­als to get his name into the pub­lic sphere. The $12,663 spent this pe­riod mostly went to other Repub­li­can can­di­dates’ cam­paigns, as has been the case for much of the year. About $3,600 went to ad­ver­tis­ing ex­penses.

Ross, a po­lit­i­cal new- comer, re­ported spend­ing nearly $11,500 this pe­riod. Just $200 went to an­other cam­paign, Demo­crat John Bar­row’s run for sec­re­tary of state. The rest went to con­sul­tants, of­fice equip­ment, signs, T-shirts, mag­nets and other pub­lic­ity-re­lated ex­penses.

Ross spent close to $850 on gun locks he’s raf­fling off to drum up sup­port as a re­spon­si­ble gun owner. He also paid $800 to spon­sor a buck­ing shoot pen at a rodeo put on by South­ern Rodeo Co. in Rock­mart and $150 for child care. He and his wife have two young chil­dren, one with epilepsy.

Two of Floyd County’s three state House rep­re­sen­ta­tives are un­op­posed on the Nov. 6 bal­lot.

Demo­crat John Bur­nette II, owner of a Farm­ers In­sur­ance agency, is chal­leng­ing in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Katie Dempsey for the District 13 seat, which cov­ers the city of Rome and much of cen­tral Floyd County.

Bur­nette re­ported $151 in his cam­paign ac­count on Sept. 30 com­pared to Dempsey’s $54,557.

Dempsey’s nearly $41,000 in big con­tri­bu­tions this pe­riod also came pri­mar­ily from other po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns and pri­vate com­pany PACs, but Rome res­i­dents also are on the list.

Among the lo­cal donors: Floyd Med­i­cal Cen­ter CEO Kurt Stuenkel, $1,000; Dr. Dan Hanks, Evans Con­struc­tion CEO Kevin Evans and Hen­der­son & Sons Fu­neral Home, $500 each; County Com­mis­sioner Larry Maxey, a builder, $300; and Bon­nie Moore, pres­i­dent of NAMI Rome, $200.

Bur­nette took in $1,291, with about half in do­na­tions of $100 or less. Ma­jor donors were Rome City Com­mis­sioner Wendy Davis, a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant, $300; Kyle Doegg of Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, $300; and $50 from him­self.

Bur­nette’s ex­penses — $1,687 in the past three months — went to door hangers, a cam­paign man­ager, a voter list and $150 to the Sex­ual As­sault Cen­ter of North­west Ge­or­gia as the en­try fee for its celebrity dance con­test fundraiser.

Dempsey re­ported spend­ing about $17,600 over the same pe­riod, in­clud­ing $2,100 a month for the At­lanta apart­ment she uses for leg­isla­tive du­ties. Her big­gest ex­pense was $6,600 to Repub­li­can Brian Kemp’s gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign. Signs, cam­paign ma­te­ri­als and do­na­tions to sev­eral lo­cal non­prof­its were also on the list.

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