RALEIGH – Mid-year campaign finance reports are due to the State Board of Elections on Friday, the first big marker in the horse race for top spots in the 2016 elections. While campaign managers across the state crunch numbers, word is already getting out on a few top candidates.
Lobbyists around Jones and Blount streets are saying that Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democrat’s still-unofficial candidate for governor, is expected to report that he raised $2 million in the first half of the year, putting his total available cash near $3.45 million. Cooper refused to answer questions yesterday about any timing of his campaign announcement or rumors that former Congressman and moderate Democrat Heath Shuler would jump into the race.
Republican state Sen. Buck Newton, who announced earlier this summer that he will run for Cooper’s job as Attorney General, plans to file on Friday showing $200,000 cash on hand. Having only filed at the beginning of June, and with Newton still serving in session in the Senate, campaign consultant Doug Raymond says this figure is way beyond their expectations.
“We are just really amazed at the amount of support,” said Raymond. “I am thrilled with where we are. His goal is to visit all 100 counties, reach out to people, explain how important the Attorney General’s job is. The response has been overwhelming. When session gets out it’s really going to break loose. You won’t see this in the report, but I’m telling you, he’s going to wear out a few sets of tires.”
Newton’s opponent, Democrat state Sen. Josh Stein filed earlier this week, reporting that he raised $365,000 so far this year, bringing his cash on hand total to $1.14 million. The maximum limit any donor can give is currently $5,100. According to state law, all candidates for public office and all political groups must file the campaign finance reports at the middle of the year and at the end of the year.