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Bell v. Stith: Time to follow the money

The Herald-Sun and N&O both did good work today in laying out the fundraising prowess of Thomas Stith's mayoral campaign, which has raised what could end up becoming a record level of funds in support of his bid to unseat Bill Bell as mayor of Durham.

As Ray Gronberg pointed out in the H-S, Bell has collected about $27,000 to Stith's $108,000 so far this year. About half of those funds for Stith came this reporting cycle; the other half appeared in the July filing of the challenger, and largely consists of funds donated by the family of Gary Hock, the wealthy developer with roots (and a skyscraper) in the Bull City. Matt Dees' N&O article notes the support Bell received from the national Democratic party back in 2001 to win office. Both papers pointed out some highlights of who's giving to whom.

But the top line figures don't tell the whole story. What's interesting is what you see when you go through the numbers for this quarter and look at just where the dollars are flowing from.

The stunner here is that Thomas Stith raised more money outside Durham than within it -- $25,060 from Durham residents, but $26,825 from Raleigh, down east, Chatham County, even Ohio. The average Durham-based contributor to the Stith campaign gave just under $350; the average non-Durhamite gave almost $690 to Thomas Stith, or twice as much per on average.  That included three non-Durham $4,000 Stith contributions; the largest Durham contribution was half that amount. (Of course, if you count the earlier donations led by the Hocks, the picture is different; this analysis focuses on this quarter's numbers, leaving behind the highly-motivated individuals, largely developers/real-estate types, who gave money earlier in the year.)

If you look at Bell's numbers, he didn't lag that much behind on Durham contributions -- $19,194 this quarter. (Possibly a bit more -- I excluded some donors from the analysis whose only address was "N.C.," though their total contributions were only a couple hundred dollars.) The average Durham giver coughed up about $250 to re-elect the incumbent. Out-of-city donors totaled only $5,650 for Bell, an average of about $400 per.

So where did the dollars come from? Both candidates drew significant dollars from ZIP code 27707 (home to Hope Valley and its environs) and 27705 (including Watts-Hillandale, Croasdaile, and other wealthy areas of northwest Durham.) Surprisingly, Stith drew almost no contributions from 27701, heart of central Durham and home to Trinity Park, Duke Park, downtown and other neighborhoods -- he only drew Andy Rothschild (who gave to both campaigns), Richard Morgan of Morgan Imports, and the business address of real estate pro and broker Frank Ward. Stith drew many donors from the Southpoint district (27713) and northernmost Durham (27712), disproportionately over Bell.

The real eye-opener -- and I don't have anything quantitative on this -- is that Stith drew overwhelmingly from two bases: the real-estate industry (brokers, developers, architects, etc.) and Republican operatives like Art Pope and former politicians. Bell, on the other hand, drew a large number of Duke affiliates, medical practitioners/researchers, and local politicians and elected office-holders.




27712 is in North Durham, nowhere near Southpoint.


The mere fact that Gary Hock is a major contributor to Thomas Stith is enough of a reason for me to vote for Bell. I was unfortunate enough to attend elementary, middle and high school with Hock's eldest son and was, for a time, a notional friend. Everything I witnessed (excesses and eccentricities, mercurial mood swings, misogyny, the perpetually blind eye turned towards his sons' ofttimes cruel and bizarre treatment of others, animals and each other and his general disinterest in the welfare of his oldest son, aside from escaping the embarrassment of a child in special needs classes or dropping out of school -- which was accomplished through the "donation" of a multi-million dollar computer "center" -- has me convinced that Gary M. Hock is one of the worst people in Durham (and by the associative property, so is anyone connected with him).

Kevin Davis

Mustang: thanks for the correction on 27712, now corrected.

Matt Dees

Hi Kevin,
Good stuff here. I did ask Stith about the out-of-towners yesterday but didn't get that in the paper.

Here's his take:

Of course, I was sure to link to your blog.

Arthur Rogers

I have never met Gary Hock and don't know much about him, but I find the personal attack offensive. If you insist on posting something like that, you should at least have the courage to post your name. It looks to me like a very cheap shot taken in a very public place.


Sorry this post will be so long, but for those of you into the details, here is a list of all Stith contributors reported on his most recent finance report who gave $500 or more. They are overwhelmingly developers. Many with other occupations listed (such as architect or electrical supply company owner) actually own tracts of land they hope to develop in Durham. And a great many from Raleigh have development projects pending in Durham (as do the Cincinnati-listed folk). And, as Kevin noted, the James A, Pope listed is Art Pope of the ultra-conservative Pope Foundation:

Stith Contrbutors giving $500 or more:

Jay Peters, Durham -- $1,000)
James Broyhill (former US Senator) -- $1,000
Charles Welsh, Chapel Hill developer - $500.00
Daniel Barutio, Durham -- $1,000
Dacvid Servass, Chapel Hill -- $500
Stephen Griffin, Durham -- $500
David Barron, Durham developer -- $500
Leon Meyers, Durham Homebuilder -- $500
Joosuk Park -- Durham New Star Realty CEO -- $1,000
Byong Kuk Michael Koung - Durham New Star Realty President -- $500.00
James A. Pope, CEO, Variety Wholesale -- $4,000
Robert Luddy, Raleigh, Captive Aire Systems -- $4,000
Henry Scherich, Durham CEO Measurement, Inc. -- $2,000
W. Jack McGhee, Durham Developer -- $1,000
Grace Ransey, Raleigh Caroatlantic -- $1,000
William Brian, Jr. Durham Attorney -- $500
Lee Brian -- Duke University - $500
Rodney Gaddy -- Progress Energy -- $500
Dana Lange, Durham -- $500
Laura Hall, Bon Vivant Catering, Durham -- $500
Robinson Everett, Durham Attorney -- $500.00
J. Patrick Gavaghan, Raleigh Keystone Group -- $4,000
Julie Gavaghan, Raleigh Keystone Group -- $500
James Little, Raleigh Keystone Group -- $500
D. Reid Tyler, Raleigh Keystone Group -- $500
K.D. Kennedy, Raleigh Electric Supply Company -- $500
Gregg Sandreuter, Cary, real estate developer (Hamilton Merritt) -- $2,000
Robert Mallernee, Durham UBS wealth manager -- $500
Jocely Thornton, Holly Springs, Progress Energy -- $500
Carl Webb, Sr., Durham, Greenfire Develop. -- $500
Gregory Sanchez, Cary, Tri-Properties Develop. -- $1,000
Chris Cooperberg, MD -- $500
Southgate Jones, III, Durham, BB&T -- $500
Stephen Hancock, Durham CPA -- $500
John Silverman, Cicninnatti, Midland Atlantic -- $500
Gerard Musanto, Structure House -- $ 500
Charles T. Wilson III, Chapel Hill, Construction Co. CEO -- $500
Keith T. Brown, Durham, Midland Atlantic -- $2,000
Joseph Collie, Durham, retired -- $1,500
Robert C. Rhein, Cincinnati, Midland Atlantic -- $1,000
R.A. Ingram, Durham, retired -- $500
Jack Hawke, Zebulon, Civitas -- $500
John Warasila, Chapel Hill -- $500
Laura Cox, Durham homemaker -- $500
E.L. Clark, Durham, Axent/Clark Controls owner - $500


Finally, if you are also interested in who is crafting his messages and likely came up with the push polls and wedge issue campaigns, he has listed Ballard Everett & Associates of Raleigh as a consultant and paid them what looks like over $20,000. Ballard is a Republican (no surprise there) and here are some of Ballard & Everett's prior campaign clients -- most from Wake County (as is Stith's money!).

In the end, this may not be so much about Republicans trying to buy their way into Durham as Raleigh developers trying to buy their way into Durham now that they've sliced up their own pie and wolfed it down....

Past Ballard & Everett clients and their races:

Donnie Harrison: Sheriff, Wake County
Tony Gurley: Wake County Commissioner race
2006 Wake County $970 million school bond referendum
Philip Isley: Raleigh City Counci race
Christine Mumma: NC Senate District 18 race
Jeff Wilson: Sampson County Commissioner
Marilyn Avila: NC House 40 race
Jimmy Thornton: Sheriff, Sampson County
Judge Sanford Steelman: NC Court of Appeals
Judge Howard Manning: NC Supreme Court
Rep. Bill Daughtridge: R - 25th District)



Glad the information made it into the N&O's Durham blog after Kevin posted it. Why didn't it make it into the paper, though? Will you get it in the paper? Seems like this is news.



For those who like lists and stats like I do, here are Bell's $500-and-higher donors (you can see the whole list in this PDF -

John Atkins - RTP - Architect - $2000
Craig Davis - Cary - Developer - $1000
Gregory Sanchez - Cary - Developer - $1000
Dudley Lacy - Durham - Architect - $1000
Phillip Szostak - Chapel Hill - Architect - $500
Carl Webb Sr - Durham - Developer - $500

Willie Covington - Durham - Register of Deeds - $500
Worth Hill - Durham - Sheriff - $500

Charles Sanders - Durham - MD - $2000

Steve Schewel - Durham - $770

Mark Trustin - Durham - $500

Phail Wynn - Durham - $500

Laura Hardin - Hillsborough - $500
Robert Ingram - Durham - $500
Margaret Keller - Durham - $500
Ed Pope - Durham - $500
Jenny Warburg - Durham - $500
Samuel Warburton Jr - Durham - $500


I have a question for anyone who can help. What is it about Stith that will make him liked by developers so much more? It seems to me that Bell has been pretty pro-development. I mean Durham seems to be growing by the day, and there were architects and developers who gave to Bell also. What is it about Stith that makes him different?

Kevin Davis

Matt -- thanks for the link from the N&O. I would only add a friendly asterisk to the description of the blog, and note that BCR is certainly not impartial on issues -- I bring my own lens for looking at and analyzing issues in Durham -- but is also not intended to be a partisan source.

Mike and others -- If I had to guess, I'd suspect that some of the developer support stems from two sources.

First: the problems that the City has with supporting development in re senseless bureaucracy at the various City agencies as well as City/County Planning. It really is harder and more expensive to do business whether you're a for-profit or a not-for-profit developer in the Bull City. (There's a story on the latter that, sadly, I can't share here on the blog since I'm personally living with it at times.)

Second: In general, developers and real-estate interests are likely to be big givers to political campaigns in Sunbelt cities. Why? Because hardly any other industry is as impacted by the yes/no power of City government and councils. You can't stop, say, a restaurant from choosing to lease a retail slot in a strip mall (save for health code violations!) ... but you can stop the strip mall from getting built in the first place.



While I understand your criticism of my "anonymous" post, I could write in any name that I want to -- I could be "Bob Jones" or "Steve Smith" or "Carl Yastrzemski" -- what difference does it make? As it is, with the name I've posted under, Gary, Dax and Tanner know who I am.


hey, don't forget me - i'm a $40 donor to Bill Bell. and maybe more when i get back from my honeymoon.

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