Following the Money: Who’s funding the Ala. Governor’s race?
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama’s Primary Election is a month away. Voters will determine which candidates will be on the ballot in November.
The GOP nomination for governor is one of the key races to watch and it’s flush with cash. All the candidates in the field have raised more than $20 million combined and spent more than $13 million.
It matters who’s donating to those campaigns, that’s why we’re following the money.
Three Republican candidates for Governor top the fundraising list: Lindy Blanchard, Governor Kay Ivey and Tim James.
Kay Ivey’s raised $6.9 million which accounts for nearly $3 million from businesses and around $2 million from political action committees or PACs that seek to fund candidates that support their legislative interests.
Ivey’s largest business donation: $1.5 million from Get Families Back to Work, Inc., a dark money organization with the same Washington, D.C. address as the Republican Governor’s Association. Blue Cross Blue Shield donated $100,000. In fact, more than sixty businesses donated $10,000 or more to her campaign.
The top PAC donors include Alabama Power Company Employees PAC, BIZPAC and Progress PAC. Each contributed at least $100,000.
Ivey’s individual donors add up to $1.6 million. Tuscaloosa businessman State Pate is the highest personal donor at a quarter million dollars followed by business owners Jimmy Rane and Reid Dove who both gave $100,000. Rane’s company Great Southern Wood also donated $50,000 to Ivey’s campaign.
Ivey’s spent more than $4 million to date, a portion of that on ads. Political consultant Dave Mowery of Mowery Consulting Group says it’s still possible that Ivey could manage to win the primary without a runoff, but it’s not a given.
“Some of the ads that they’re running are a bit more red meat,” explained Mowery. “I think that’s probably a sign that they’re a little bit worried about the numbers and also that she’s still trying to dictate what the race is fought on.”
Political newcomer Lindy Blanchard is millions ahead of other candidates. As of late April, Blanchard had loaned her campaign a whopping $9.4 million dollars. As for comparison, Blanchard’s spent nearly as much as Ivey’s raised outright.
So far, no PAC or business donations have been reported by the campaign. Mowery says personally funding a campaign to this level is rare in Alabama.
“It’s a different look,” he advised. “You can run your campaign differently because you aren’t trying to pick up certain constituencies – in terms of ‘If we do this, they’ll support us and give us a big check.’”
Mowery believes public fundraising is the conventional way to connect with voters.
“It gives you time to talk to people that have outside influence or have large bases of influence,” he mentioned. “In talking to them and getting their financial support you you can pick up other things and you can figure out what other groups want.”
Tim James’s campaign raised more than $3 million. He’s received $1.6 million from individual donors. This also includes nearly a million in loans from Guice Slawson with Southeast Forest Products and John McInnis, III, who’s in construction and owns the Flora-Bama.
Businesses cut $1.2 million in checks for James. The highest donor: Clearbrook, LLC out of Mobile. He has less than $100,000 in PAC money.
Birmingham businessman Lew Burdette has raised nearly a half million dollars.
While polling shows Ivey with a comfortable lead, if she doesn’t get more than 50 percent of the votes in May, this race will go to a runoff.
The campaign finance totals reflect state records at the time this story was published.
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