Many of Cobb’s incumbents in Georgia’s House of Representatives are maintaining larger war chests over their potential challengers ahead of next month’s qualifying period. But a handful of office seekers are drawing dollars to their cause.
Only one challenger has pulled more money than their incumbent opponent — Democrat Jen Slipakoff has out-earned state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, Cobb’s longest-serving representative, in the race for the District 36 seat.
The MDJ examined finance reports showing contributions made during the reporting period, overall contributions, expenses made throughout the campaign and remaining net balance. Through the most recent campaign contribution reporting period, which ended Jan. 31, Slipakoff had drawn $62,354 in contributions, spending $7,332 of it, leaving her with just over $55,000 in the bank.
Her contributions came mostly from individuals, but she also earned $1,000 from Georgia´s WIN List, a political action committee aimed at helping Democratic women get elected to legislative and state offices.
Ehrhart on his 2018 campaign has drawn $57,055 in contributions and has spent $40,141 of that, leaving him with more than $16,900. Among his largest contributions were $2,500 from Altria Client Services in Alpharetta, $1,500 from AT&T Georgia, $1,200 from the Georgia Association of Realtors and $1,000 from Cleveland, Tennessee-based payday lender Check Into Cash.
Ehrhart’s reported itemized donations were all made before the end of the first week of January. As a sitting state legislator, he and other incumbents are precluded from raising money while the Legislature is in session. The Georgia General Assembly gaveled into session Jan. 8.
DEMS SEEK TO FLIP GOLICK’S SEAT
State Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, announced last month that he would not seek re-election to his District 40 seat once his term ends this year.
Golick’s finance report showed the incumbent with $75,328 in total contributions during the course of his campaign, with $29,014 in total expenditures, leaving him with $46,314 in the bank. Contributions noted in the report included $2,000 from AT&T Georgia, $1,000 from Home Depot Inc. PAC., and $1,500 each from the Georgia Association of Realtors and the Civil Justice PAC, the political arm of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
Three potential successors to Golick’s seat have filed reports with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. Two have registered as Democrats: Erick Allen and Justin Gorman.
Allen, who lost to Golick in the previous two elections, has the most money of the three non-incumbents, with his contributions totaling $29,409, which included a $10,000 loan to his campaign. After spending $6,936, he was left with $22,473.
His contributions came from individual donations, including $250 from state Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, and $100 from Smyrna Councilwoman Maryline Blackburn.
Gorman, an attorney in the health care industry and an Air Force veteran, pulled in a handful of itemized and non-itemized individual contributions totaling $5,863, and after spending $429, was left with $5,434.
A third candidate, Republican Taryn Chilivis Bowman, also filed a campaign finance disclosure form, but reported no contributions, expenditures or any money in the bank. A business owner, Bowman is a mother of three and daughter of Nick Chilivis, who was revenue commissioner under Gov. George Busbee in the 1970s.
Smyrna attorney Matt Bentley, who last year ran in the special election for the seat vacated by former state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, has announced his intention to seek Golick’s seat as well, though no campaign information was listed on the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website as of Monday. His final filing on his Senate campaign, dated Jan. 8, showed him with $1,648 left in his campaign account — an amount he could potentially repurpose for his House campaign, according to Jason Shepherd, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party.
FOUR DEMS NOT YET CHALLENGED
State records show that four Cobb Democrats so far have no challengers who are reporting fundraising: state Rep. David Wilkerson, of Powder Springs, state Rep. Erica Thomas of Austell, and Atlanta-based state Reps. Sheila Jones and Roger Bruce.
In District 38, the biggest contributors to Wilkerson’s campaign were Civil Justice PAC at $2,500 and the Georgia Society of CPAs at $1,000, while another $1,000 came from the Georgia Medical Political Action Committee.
Wilkerson’s campaign has reported $19,760 in total contributions through the end of January, with expenditures totaling $11,157, leaving $8,603.
District’s 39 Thomas, whose campaign had not filed a disclosure report showing activity through the Jan. 31 deadline, had reported in late July having $24,367 in previously reported contributions and $15,646 in previously reported expenditures, leaving her with a net balance on hand of $8,721.
Contributions to Jones’ campaign include $500 each from the Civil Justice PAC, Georgia Association of Realtors, Georgia Chiropractic Association PAC and the Georgia Optometric Association. The District 53 representative has received $22,438 in total contributions and spent $18,021, leaving her with $4,417.
Bruce’s biggest reported contributions were both $1,000 and came from the Georgia Association of Realtors and loan provider Credit Central out of Greenville, South Carolina.
His report showed $42,812 in total contributions throughout his campaign, with $3,941 spent, leaving him with $38,870 to go toward reelection in District 61.
Here’s how fundraising has gone for Cobb’s other House candidates:
State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, has $104,790 to go toward his reelection campaign after spending $17,118 of his $121,909 on total contributions. From last August until before the opening of the General Assembly, he received contributions totaling $2,500 from the Civil Justice PAC, $1,500 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and $1,000 donations from the Georgia Health Care Association PAC and the Committee For Affordable Workplace Housing.
Seeking Reeves’ seat is Democrat Matthew Southwell, an IT professional and former president of the Young Democrats of Cobb County. In addition to nearly $375 in loans, making up his contributions include another $375 in small donations and $500 from itemized contributions from four Cobb residents, giving him about $1,248. After spending $409, he was left with $839.
State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, is maintaining a campaign fund of $13,307 after spending $4,718 of his total $18,025 in contributions made throughout his campaign.
Among Setzler’s donors were AT&T Georgia at $1,500, while $1,000 contributions came from the Civil Justice PAC, Georgia Realtors PAC and General Motors. While the most recent donations had been in early January before legislators’ return to the Gold Dome, the earliest contribution listed on Setzler’s report was a $250 donation from Georgia Credit Union PAC on Jan. 3, 2017; the group gave another $250 to the campaign in November.
Democrat Kyle Rinaudo, a Campbell High School percussion teacher, received $1,350 in contributions from individual donors, which made up the entirety of his reported campaign fund, which had been untouched at the time of the report.
Democrat Lucy McBath is spokeswoman and Faith and Community Outreach leader for Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. She is running for the District 37 seat held by state Rep. Sam Teasley, R-Marietta, and so far, has amassed $94,961 in donations to her campaign. After spending $21,003 of it, she was left with $73,958.
Her itemized contributions during the reporting period included $1,000 from Georgia’s WIN List and another $1,000 from the American Women’s Party, an advocacy group “fighting for equal representation, participation, and policy development for women in the Democratic Party,” according to its website.
Teasley maintains a money advantage, however, with $107,464 left in his bank after spending $25,238 of his total $132,702 in contributions. His latest report saw him receiving $2,000 from AT&T Georgia, $1,500 from Cancer Treatment Centers of America and $1,200 from Georgia Association of Realtors PAC.
State Rep. Michael Smith, D-Marietta, has one officially listed challenger — Bryan Almanza, a Republican and Smyrna resident, according to his registration information, though Almanza has not filed any campaign finance reports after only filing campaign paperwork after the Jan. 31 reporting period ended.
DeAnna Harris, a Republican, is a marketing director for Virtual Properties Reality and has announced she is seeking Smith’s seat, though no campaign information was listed on the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website as of Monday.
Smith to date has notched nearly $3,500 in contributions and spent $1,662, leaving him with $1,836 on hand. His report itemized only two contributions: $500 from the Civil Justice PAC and $250 from the Atlanta Braves — the latter a common contributor to many Cobb incumbent representatives, according to candidate reports.
Cobb’s newest state representative, Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, has garnered $13,518 in total contributions and has spent $7,920, leaving her with nearly $5,600 in a possible bid to win a full term. Anulewicz, a former Smyrna city councilwoman, won the District 42 seat after being the sole qualifier for it in September.
Her reports showed that $500 contributions from Charter Communications and Gas South PAC were the largest of her itemized contributions totaling $3,750.
Marietta resident Jay Christopher Strickland filed his declaration of intent to seek Anulewicz’s seat earlier this month but has not filed any campaign finance reports. His campaign website lists him as a Libertarian candidate, Georgia native and Marine Corps veteran studying mechatronics engineering at Kennesaw State University.
Reports show that state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb, has the largest war chest among her fellow Cobb representatives, with nearly a quarter million dollars in the bank after spending just over $69,500 of her total contributions of $318,907.
The reporting period saw Cooper bring in more than $75,000 in itemized contributions, which included a number of donations from the health industry including $2,600 from United Health Services of Georgia PAC, $2,600 from Comprehensive Health Management Inc. out of Tampa, Florida, $2,500 from Independent Doctors of Georgia, and $1,000 from Eli Lilly and Company.
Cooper is chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Democrat Luisa Wakeman of east Cobb has drawn $33,547 in total contributions in her campaign for the District 43 seat. She was left with $30,794 in the bank after spending $2,754.
Wakeman’s notable contributions included $1,000 from Georgia’s WIN List and $601 from state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta.
State Rep. Don Parsons, R-north Cobb, has more than $100,000 in his campaign chest after spending $14,944 of his $115,399 in contributions over the course of the campaign. Donations noted in his latest report included $1,000 from Gas South PAC and donations from three telecom companies — $1,700 from AT&T Georgia PAC, $1,000 from Sprint and $1,000 from Verizon.
Parsons is the chair of the House Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications.
Also filing as a Republican was Homer Crothers, who reported a single $200 contribution on his report, which remained unspent at the time of his report.
Seeking the seat as a Democrat is Chalker Elementary School teacher Chinita Allen, who filed a campaign finance report but reported no contributions or expenditures.
State Rep. Matt Dollar, R-east Cobb, has $59,196 remaining for his campaign after spending $33,570 of his $92,766 in total contributions. Donations listed in his latest reported included $2,600 from AT&T PAC, $1,000 from Committee for Fair Vacation Rentals and $1,000 from Civil Justice PAC.
Filing as a Democrat for Dollar’s seat is Essence Johnson, whose $1,680 in contributions came from $1,100 in itemized contributions from individuals, each totaling $100 or more, and smaller donations totaling $580. Johnson had not spent her campaign cash at the time of the report.
State Rep. John Carson, R-northeast Cobb, has the money lead in a possible District 46 contest, with $60,277 remaining after spending $36,023 of his $96,300 in contributions. The reporting period saw him list donations of $2,000 from AT&T Georgia PAC, and $1,000 each from the Branch Banking & Trust Company PAC, Civil Justice PAC and the Committee for Affordable Workforce Housing.
Karin Sandiford, a business owner and mother of four seeking Carson’s seat as a Democrat, has $13,658 in her bank after spending $7,889 of her contributions that totaled $21,547. Notable donations included $1,000 from Georgia WIN List, $250 from State Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, and mostly donations from individual sources.
Keith Schroeder, another Democratic candidate, had not filed a campaign disclosure report as he submitted his paperwork stating his intent to run after the reporting deadline.