DOBSON — Candidates trying to win or retain three Surry political offices spent more than $70,000 altogether in the most recent county election, according to just-released campaign finance reports.
The deepest pockets leading up to the November election belonged to Carolyn Comer, who captured her third four-year term as the county’s register of deeds.
Comer’s campaign raised $25,398 and spent $25,528 on her re-election bid, according to final financial documents released this week by the Surry County Board of Elections. The reports show $8,231 of that total was disbursed during the last leg of the campaign.
Candidates are required to disclose detailed lists of political contributions and expenses if either exceeds a $1,000 threshold during an election season.
Six candidates who were seeking county offices in 2012 faced that requirement.
In addition to Comer, who ran on the Democratic ticket, they included her Republican opponent, Todd Harris; incumbent East District Commissioner Paul Johnson of the GOP and a Democratic challenger for his seat, Dave Diamont; and two candidates vying for a Mount Airy District seat on the county board of commissioners, Republican Larry Phillips and Democrat John Collins.
Comer’s war chest dwarfed by a wide margin that of her opponent, as well as all the other four candidates who were required to submit financial documents.
Harris’ campaign did not turn in final reports until after a Jan. 10 deadline for doing so, and audited figures for his contributions and expenditures had not been prepared by county elections officials as of Wednesday afternoon. However, when reached by telephone, Harris said that their total was in the $9,000 or $10,000 range.
Johnson outspent and outraised his opponent, $12,685 and $14,550, respectively, in his successful run for a fifth four-year term on the county board.
Diamont, East Surry High School’s football coach and a former longtime member of the N.C. House of Representatives seeking to unseat Johnson, logged $11,560 in campaign contributions and spent $8,003 of that.
Among Diamont’s notable contributors was Franklin Freeman Jr. Freeman is a Raleigh lawyer and former Surry County district attorney who also has held several top-level state government positions, including heading the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts and serving on the state Supreme Court. Freeman supplied $250 to Diamont’s campaign, according to the financial reports.
Phillips won his race for Mount Airy District commissioner on the county board despite raising and spending significantly less than Collins, his Democratic rival. Phillips earlier had been appointed to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner Garry Scearce, who died of cancer last summer, and won a full four-year term in November.
Collins raised $11,768 and spent $10,330. His financial reports reflect a $5,000 loan from the candidate to his campaign.
Phillips’ campaign expenditures amounted to $5,655, with a total of $5,650 raised.
All the candidates’ expenses generally were for campaign materials such as signs and business cards, in addition to advertisements with media outlets, the financial documents show.
In addition to loans, campaign revenues typically result from small amounts given by various individuals (often in the $100 to $350 range) as well as contributions from political organizations.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.