This is an election year and with the primaries moved up to May 20, candidates vying for national offices are rushing to file statements of candidacy and disclose campaign contributions with the Federal Election Commission.
Here on the coast, the race to fill U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s First Congressional District of Georgia seat is heating up. Kingston, a congressman for 20 years, is pursuing the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss announced last year that he would not seek re-election.
There are six Republican candidates running for Congress, including state Sen. Buddy Carter of Pooler; former state Sen. Jeff Chapman of Brunswick; Dr. Bob Johnson, a surgeon and former Army ranger; businessman John McCallum of St. Simons; and Darwin Carter, a consultant from Bacon County who worked in former President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
Buddy Carter reported raising $168,072.03 for his campaign in the third quarter of last year. According to a recent news release, Carter has a total of $416,684.05 in cash on hand for his campaign.
“It has been our goal to set a blistering pace and to outwork everybody else in every aspect of the campaign,” Carter campaign manager Lee Hughes said. “Sen. Carter is a tireless campaigner, and he’s sincerely enjoying all aspects of the campaign. We are especially pleased that we are showing consistency from quarter to quarter as this is our third quarter in a row when our numbers have exceeded $150,000, and we are especially proud that we have had donors from all 17 counties in the district. With more than $415,000 on hand, we know that we will have the resources to get our campaign message out to the voters of the district.”
Chapman filed his statement of candidacy June 17, 2013, and disclosed $71,383 in campaign cash on hand at the end of last year, according to the FEC website, fec.gov. Chapman could not be reached by press time.
Johnson disclosed having $211,151 in cash on hand by Dec. 31, 2013, according to fec.gov. He filed his statement of candidacy May 17, 2013.
“Dr. Johnson continues to gain support and momentum with the people of GA01 — conservatives and physicians who all agree with his platform to fully repeal ObamaCare,” said Ryan Reynolds, Johnson’s campaign manager. “The more voters get to know about Dr. Bob Johnson, his background as a cancer surgeon, retired Army Ranger and strong Christian conservative beliefs, the more people are excited to vote for him in May. I expect this first quarter of 2014 to be our strongest fundraising quarter yet.”
McCallum’s year-end cash on hand was reported to be $304,562, according to the FEC. McCallum filed his statement of candidacy Nov. 21, 2013.
“We are overwhelmed by the strong support from those in Georgia’s First District and beyond,” McCallum campaign manager Rachel Dodsworth said in a news release posted at johnmccallum.us. “John has a proven track record of helping others build businesses, create jobs and pursue their dreams. We need bold, conservative leadership like his in Washington to preserve and protect the American dream for future generations.”
McCallum also had $363,658 in year-end receipts, according to fec.org, and a $100,000 loan from the candidate, according to the release.
Darwin Carter had $88,502 in year-end cash on hand, according to fec.org. Carter filed his statement of candidacy July 17, 2013.
“Our campaign is on track and we are proud to report our contributions and expenses are a reflection of Mr. Carter,” Darwin campaign spokesman Michael Howington said. “You will note from the FEC reports, Mr. Carter certainly hasn’t raised the most money, but he has carefully accepted contributions. He has raised money from individuals, in addition to money from his own pocket and has turned down contributions from lobbyists and special-interest groups. As you evaluate the filings, you will also note the expenses have been relatively minor and have reflected his campaign platform and conservative beliefs. There is no debt for the campaign, no loan payments for the campaign, and he is purposely using these funds wisely — just as he has promised the people he will do if elected to represent them.”
Howington said Carter did not initially seek to enter the race.
“He was recruited by several voters in the district and after careful consideration and prayer, he chose to accept their urging to run for this office,” he said. “No other candidate in this race can make that claim.”
A few Democrats also have joined the race. Richmond Hill resident Amy Tavio announced her candidacy last month.
“Amy declared (her candidacy) on Jan. 23,” Tavio campaign manager Charles Feagain said. “A finance-disclosure report will come out for the first quarter of 2014, at the end of March. Right now, we’re focused on fundraising and getting her out in the district.”
Feagain added that Tavio’s campaign team currently is working to strengthen its candidate’s name recognition.
Democratic candidate and businesswoman Lesli Messinger of Savannah reportedly has dropped out of the race, according to area media reports. Messinger ran against Kingston in 2012. She is supporting Brian Reese in his campaign, according to WSAV. Reese is a minister and a managing partner for UPS. He filed a statement of candidacy Feb. 3, according to fec.org.
A third Democrat, Marc Anthony Smith of Savannah, declared on his Facebook page that he, too, is running for Congress. Smith filed a statement of candidacy Dec. 11, 2013, according to the FEC website. No campaign-fund summary was listed.