Rogers takes early lead in congressional fundraising
By Shannan Mashburn • Intern
Democrat Hayden Rogers has commanded the lead in the money race for the congressional election to take over U.S. Congressman Heath Shuler’s seat in Washington next year.
Neither Rogers nor his Republican opponent Mark Meadows raised a staggering amount of money during the spring and summer, when most candidates typically see a drop off in political contributions before the big push going into fall.
But, Rogers raised twice as much money as Meadows during the second quarter of 2012. Rogers raised $176,172 in contributions from mid-April to the end of June, according to his campaign finance report. Meadows raised only $86,382.
“For the second quarter in a row, hundreds of voters in Western North Carolina have thrown their support behind our message and added their name to our grassroots campaign,” Rogers said in a news release. “It’s a testament to the strength of our campaign and shows we have the support and trust of the people of Western North Carolina.”
Rogers is a conservative Democrat from Robbinsville and spent six years as Shuler’s chief of staff and right-hand man. Meadows is a real estate developer and former restaurant owner from Cashiers.
Meadows was at a fundraising disadvantage, however, as he was still locked in a primary election for who would ultimately be the Republican nominee on the ballot in November. Meadows was forced into a second primary in July after the initial primary in May. Although the obvious Republican frontrunner, fundraising was likely hampered since he hadn’t officially clinched his party’s nomination yet. The Republican Party could not throw its support, both vocal and monetary, behind Meadows until he won the second primary on July 17.
“People were reluctant to give until they figure out who that nominee is going to be,” Meadows said.
He hopes that will now change.
“Obviously, we are not where we need to be to be competitive in a general elections,” Meadows said. “We have see an uptick in an enthusiasm of giving. People are obviously getting more excited.”
To date in the election cycle, Meadows has raised $239,000 compared to Rogers $492,000. Meadows has supplemented his own war chest to the tune of $260,000 by loaning or donating to his own campaign from his personal funds.
Meadows has not only raised less, but has spent more than Rogers. To date in the election, Meadows has spent $460,352 on his campaign, while Rogers has spent only $300,175.
Meadows faced a more crowded and competitive field in the May primary, forcing him to spend more on his campaign. The prolonged primary also meant Meadows had to keep spending while Rogers was able to take a break and marshal his money for later in the campaign season.
Several members of the Democratic Party made individual donations to benefit Rogers including former N.C. Senators John Snow Jr. and Joe Sam Queen. Meadows has received financial support from the campaigns of notable Republican leaders, N.C. Rep. Mitch Gillespie and N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise.
Rogers not only leads in contributions from individual donors, but his connections in Washington as Shuler’s chief of staff have helped him land more than five times as many donations from Political Actions Committee, or PACs, since announcing his candidacy earlier this year.
Various PACs have gifted Meadows, a businessman turned politician, $32,500 since the campaign began.
At this point, it is unclear how much of Shuler’s once extensive war chest could make its way in the form of donations to Rogers’ campaign. Shuler donated $4,000 to Rogers’ efforts in early February, according to the campaign finance report. At the end of the reporting period, Shuler still had $138,479 after donating money to several campaigns and giving some contributors their donations back. Now, the question remains, what will Shuler do with the rest of his war chest?
— Staff writer Caitlin Bowling contributed to this article.
The following amounts come from federal election finance reports filed by the candidates in July and go through the second quarter.
Hayden Rogers for Congress
Cash on hand: $192,268
Mark Meadows for Congress
Loaned or donated from candidate’s personal funds: $260,000
Cash on hand: $33,718