Cooper pulls in more donations than McCrory during first six months of fundraising for NC governor's race
Posted July 31, 2015
Updated August 4, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and his likely Democratic rival have raised millions of dollars already as they gird for what is shaping up to be a long and hard-fought campaign.
McCrory's campaign reports were not available from the State Board of Elections on Friday, but his committee said in a statement that it had raised $1.3 million during the first six months of the year, leaving him with $2.4 million cash on hand.
Democrat Roy Cooper, the current attorney general and all-but-announced gubernatorial candidate, reported raising $2.1 million during the first six months of the year, leaving him with $3 million in the bank as of July 1.
"While Governor McCrory is focused on doing his full-time job as governor of North Carolina, our growing network of supporters will ensure we have the resources necessary to show how North Carolina is moving forward and creating jobs under his leadership," said Billy Constangy, director of The Pat McCrory Committee, said in a prepared statement.
Ken Spaulding, a Democrat and the only candidate to have formally declared thus far, reported raising $44,392.58. After accounting for money he had coming into the year and after spending $54,419.18 over the past six months, Spaulding had $50,855.72 in the bank as of July 1. Spaulding launched an early radio ad against Cooper but sorely lags in cash and name recognition.
Cooper spent $575,317.74 during the first half of the year.
"People across North Carolina are responding to Roy Cooper's positive vision for the state's future," said Morgan Jackson, Cooper's lead consultant. "We're pleased so many have weighed in with their encouragement and support so early. It's clear that people are ready for a change in Raleigh."
Although there's nearly a year to go before the general election, the fundraising numbers could be of concern for McCrory. Cooper's cash haul is the biggest for the first six months of the two-year campaign cycle of any gubernatorial candidate in the state's history, and it is rare for a would-be challenger to out-raise an incumbent.
"It would set off plenty of alarm bells if it were me," said Carter Wrenn, a longtime Republican strategist.
Asked if he was concerned by the disparity, Constangy said, "Not at all. We're just getting started."
It's worth noting that a lot of money in politics will flow to entities other than the candidates themselves. For example, nonprofit groups allied with McCrory can raise and spend money independent of the campaign. But Wrenn argues that Republicans will focus first on stocking the governor's own war chest before looking to outside groups.
"Any time you've got a challenger raising more money than an incumbent, it's of concern," he said, calling the fact that Cooper outpaced McCrory's fundraising by $800,000 "a shocker."
Generally, incumbents have built-in advantages when it comes to running for re-election. Name recognition is one of those, but it's arguable that Cooper, as a long-serving attorney general, is just as well known as McCrory. The ability to raise money is another should-be advantage, Wrenn said.