story by Ryan Saylor
At least one record has fallen today (July 15) as candidates filed second quarter fundraising reports from federal offices all the way down to races for state house and state senate.
In the race for Arkansas governor, former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, announced he had raised $1.97 million in the first quarter of fundraising since entering the governor's race on April 17. The Ross campaign said the amount sets a new record in Arkansas. The campaign also reported having $1.7 million cash on hand.
Ross said in a press release that the record numbers, boosted by more than 5,000 supporters, shows that his message of economic development and improving education is making an impact across the state.
“We have a lot of work to do before Election Day, but I think it’s clear we’ve got a strong start and a lot of momentum on our side. I’m running for governor, because I love this state and I want to use my experience of bringing people together to focus on education and job creation," he said.
The record fundraising quarter surpassed the previous record, set by current Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, of $1.09 million, the release said.
Of the money donated for the primary and general elections, nearly 90% of donations came from within the state of Arkansas, according to the campaign. Additionally, the press release noted that no loans had been made to the campaign.
That is in stark contrast to former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is challenging Ross for the governor's mansion. According to campaign finance filings from the first quarter, Halter raised $1 million for his gubernatorial run, but that included a $640,000 loan he made to his campaign. Halter's fundraising figures from the second quarter show him only raising $92,900.19, with $837,046.77 cash on hand.
On the Republican side, businessman Curtis Coleman reported raising $101,715 in his first foray into politics. The fundraising figure includes a $25,000 loan Coleman made to his campaign. Coleman has previously said he plans to rely on individual donors for campaign funds, but has left himself open to spending a portion of his personal fortune on the governor's race.
"If the need arises for me to invest personal funds in the campaign, then I'll make the decision at that point with consultation with my family."
Coleman reported $16,747 cash on hand. Reports for former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, Coleman's primary opponent, have not yet been made public.
In the race for lieutenant governor, Democrat John Burkhalter reported no contributions to his campaign, though he did report loaning himself $30,000, of which only $5,648.49 remains. Burkhalter's company, Burkhalter Technologies of North Little Rock, has also contributed $1,057.10 to cover refreshments and airfare. Little Rock School Board President Diane Curry, who is challenging Burkhalter in the Democratic primary, did not yet have fundraising figures available.
In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Mark Pryor, D-Ark., announced he had raised $1.2 million from April to June, with $3.92 million cash on hand in his campaign for a third term.
“We had a very strong quarter and surpassed our fundraising goals,” Jeff Weaver, Pryor's campaign manager, said in a statement. “Sen. Pryor is grateful and humbled by the continued support as he fights for responsible solutions that protect Arkansas’ hard-working families and strengthen our nation.”
Even though Pryor has no announced opponent at this time, the person all eyes have been focused on is U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, who reported donations of $611,341 in his campaign for re-election to the Fourth District U.S. House seat, along with $1.04 million cash on hand.
Should Cotton challenge Pryor, he will be at an initial disadvantage from a campaign funding standpoint, though outside money could pour into Arkansas. The Senate seat has drawn attention from national groups, with several commercials paid for by outside organizations running on Arkansas airwaves that attack Pryor and Cotton.
Other reported fundraising figures include:
• U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro (First Congressional District)
$168,932 Cash on hand
• U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin R-Little Rock (Second Congressional District)
$447,334 Cash on hand
• U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers (Third Congressional District)
$578,970 Cash on hand
• Republican David Sterling (Attorney General)
$34,176.80 Raised (including $4,005.80 loan)
$70,757.24 Cash on hand
• Republican Ken Yang (Auditor)
$11,731.12 Raised (including $2,967.12 loan)
$26,055.31 Cash on hand
• Republican Dennis Milligan (Treasurer)
$14,612.41 Raised (including $13,912.41 loan)
$17,240.52 Cash on hand
• Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers (Senate District 3)
$12,026.54 Cash on hand
• Republican Jana Della Rosa (Representative District 90)
$2,089.94 Cash on hand