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BOCC race: Following the money

Monday marked the filing deadline for candidates in the upcoming election to declare their contributions received so far. The big fundraiser in the Board of County Commissioners race to date has been challenger Don Moffitt, followed closely by Ellen Reckhow and Becky Heron. Josh Parker also broke the five-figure mark. Fred Foster, Brenda Howerton and Doug Wright trail in contributions but have raised enough to cover the campaign basics. Joe Bowser and Victoria Peterson have raised little money and have each pledged to spend less than $3,000 on their campaigns.

Not surprisingly, development interests represent a significant portion of donations to many campaigns -- to be expected, since land use is one of the key areas where governments have power over a business. (No one needs permission from the County Commission to open up a bakery in a strip mall or to hire new university faculty.) Still, the distribution and breakdown to individual campaigns are intriguing.

It's always interesting to browse the list of contributors to local campaigns to see who's giving to whom. In that spirit, here's a rundown of names you may recognize who've given to particular candidates, both in this cycle and in the initial filing round:

Joe Bowser: No one I recognize -- and only two donors at that, plus a self-loan. Bowser's sole donors as of Feb. were the Rev. Bernie Bass and Thelma White. Bowser pledged to spend less than $3,000 on his campaign.

Fred Foster, Jr: Local attorney Craigie Sanders is the campaign treasurer, with the $68.59 on hand as of January the only funds in Foster's donation bucket last cycle. This time around, Foster loaned himself $2,300 and Sanders loaned the campaign $1,602. Foster raised just over $500 from contributors this cycle; donors included East Durham activist Rev. Mel Whitley ($100), Lois Murphy, real estate agent Stephanie Gaither-Harris, and $25 from Diane Cattotti's re-election fund.

Becky Heron: The long-time BOCC vet began the campaign with $6,100 in her account and added $13,445 in new contributions. Almost $5,600 of this came from a large number of folks contributing less than $50 apiece, a testament to Heron's long tenure and history in the community. Retirees make up a substantial portion of Heron's larger-dollar donors. Others contributing include Steve Schewel; Billy Olive (of the Olive and Olive law firm); Robert Teer, Jr.; Andy Widmark; Frank Ward; Mike Woodard; Barker French; George Beischer; David Harris; Gary Hock; James Tatum of Moore & Van Allen; Eugene Brown; Mary Semans; and Wade Penny.

Brenda Howerton: $200 in the campaign kitty as of her filing date this winter, all from the candidate herself. Howerton raised an additional $3,600 from donors this cycle -- notable contributors included Indy publisher and school board member Steve Schewel, former mayor and backer Sylvia Kerckhoff, Southside/St. Theresa organizer Ray Eurquhart, and a number of local teachers and Duke faculty.

Don Moffit: At filing: A $200 self-contribution, $500 self-loan to his campaign -- and $100 from Diane Catotti's campaign war chest. That chest has grown substantially, by a whopping $17,932 since then. Donors include Planning Commission member George Brine, Duke University Press' Steve Cohn, Greenfire's Michael Lemanski, South Durham activist Steve Bocckino, City Councilmen Mike Woodard and Eugene Brown, Scientific Properties head Andy Rothschild and senior staff member Tucker Bartlett, Duke University exec VP Tallman Trask III, Trinity Park's Barker French, former City Councilwoman Sandy Ogburn, one-time mayor Wib Gulley, Old West Durham's John Schelp, Steve Schewel, City Council candidate David Harris, developer Lou Goetz, Duke University Library head Deb Jakubs,documentarty filmmaker Ken Dalsheimer, Duke's Ken Reckhow, current BOCC member Lewis Cheek, Downtown Durham Inc.'s Bill Kalkhof, attorney, former DCABP head and state transportation board member Ken Spaulding, arts scions Ellen Cassilly and Frank Konhaus, Duke VP of community affairs Phail Wynn. Whew. Moffitt himself gave a couple thousand dollars in in-kind support.

Josh Parker: Parker raised $2,600 to kick off his campaign in February, including donations from a similar range of sources to Moffitt: Tallman Trask III; Sylvia Kerkhoff; Stephen Barringer, VP of Dealer's Supply downtown; Benjamin Speller, a retired dean at NCCU; Mike Woodard and Sandy Ogburn; David Harris; Barker French; Brad Wiese and Reynolds Maxwell (of Maverick Partners downtown); and Fergus Bradley (of the Federal, James Joyce, etc.). Parker raised an additional $8,400 this round and loaned his campaign $1,500. Some of Parker's new contributions come from C.T. Wilson Construction head Charles Wilson; developer Lou Goetz; former Duke prez Keith Brodie; local landlords Lee Ray Bergman, Guy Solie, and Rick Soles; Phail Wynn; realtor Frank Ward; downtown resident Cal Coetzee; Lewis Cheek; Self-Help president Martin Eakes; Michael Lemanski and his Greenfire partner Carl Webb; Measurement, Inc. head and local developer Hank Scherich; Brad Wiese; Andy Rothschild; Reynolds Maxwell; Tom Niemann, Parker's old boss at Niemann Capital; and neighborhood activist Mike Shiflett. Parker also raised $500 from the PAC for the Triangle Apartments Association, the interest group of multi-family property owners in the region.

Victoria Peterson: $200 in contributions from Maurice Johnson (an NCCU student) and Redditt Alexander, a local contractor. No new report is available from Peterson. Like Bowser, Peterson is exempt from detailed campaign finance reports by pledging to "neither receive nor expend more than $3,000 during the current election cycle."

Ellen Reckhow: Another big fundraiser in the bunch, in the first quarter of 2008 Reckhow added just over $15,000 to her campaign fund. Among the names you might recognize are realtor Frank Ward; philanthropist Mary Semans; Charles Wilson; Barker French; Andy Rothschild; David Beischer of Garden View Realty (the Croasdaile folks); David Harris; Robert D. Teer, Jr.; Andrew Widmark (of Mark Properties); Sandy Ogburn; Steve Schewel; Lou Goetz; megadeveloper Gary Hock; Ruth Dzau (wife of Duke Medicine head Victor Dzau); Ken Spaulding; Hank Scherich; Phail Wynn, Jr.; and Carolyn and Wade Penny.

Doug Wright: Wright's raised just under $2,100 in the campaign to date. Large donors of interest include John and Sandra Atkins (listing the best occupation seen in reports this year: "Retired White House correspondent"); retired Durham County ABC Board member William Porter; and retired minister Haywood Holderness.



Thanks for breaking this down for us, Kevin. Good reporting! Definitely gives an insight into who's supporting who. Thanks for taking the time to go through these lists.


What about Michael Page?

Kevin Davis

Ginny: Thanks! I was realizing I might have found a better way to break these down. What would be nice would be a visualization map showing the size of total contributions from different areas (developers, elected officials, Duke/NCCU folks, neighborhood activists, other citizens) and how it broke down among other candidates. Maybe next time!

JDC: Whoops, I should have mentioned that. Page hasn't filed any reports, according to what I can find on the Board of Elections web site.

Duncan Heron

Just a note to let you know that Becky Heron accepts no money from PACs and limits contributions from individuals to $200. She returned a check last week for $500. She has been practicing campaign reform since 1988.

Kevin Davis

Duncan: Thanks for noting that. It's a terrific stand in a day when there's too much money in politics.

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