Local Politics

Basnight keeps Democratic candidates in the money

Posted April 27, 2010 5:55 p.m. EDT
Updated April 28, 2010 4:38 p.m. EDT

— Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight has been the pre-eminent fundraiser in the General Assembly for years, and new campaign finance reports show his touch with donors appears to be recession-proof.

During the first three months of the year, Basnight, D-Dare, raised $508,846, with 86 percent of the total from individual contributors. By comparison, the state Democratic Party raised $326,690 during that period, and the state Republican Party raised $240,935.

House Speaker Joe Hackney raised $173,694 between January and March, while House Minority Leader Paul Stam raised $30,395, Senate Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt raised $61,075 and Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger raised $80,275.

Basnight routinely spreads his campaign cash among other Democratic legislators and candidates in tight races in order to maintain a majority position in the General Assembly.

"You have to get what you believe in before the people," he said Tuesday.

Some political analysts predict that candidates could need $500,000 to win a close race this fall.

"The largest part of (campaign spending) will be to elect Senate Democrats," Basnight said.

He said the 2010 election will be tough for several reasons:

Veteran lawmakers like former Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand and Sens. David Hoyle, David Weinstein, Larry Shaw and Charlie have either left the legislature already or don't plan to seek re-election.

President Barack Obama, who led a Democratic tide in the 2008 election, is under fire for his handling of health care reform and the U.S. economy.

A federal grand jury continues to investigate former Gov. Mike Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office.

"The demand for Basnight's money is going to be far greater" than in the past, veteran political analyst John Davis said.

Davis also noted that Basnight had $725,470 in the bank at the end of March, down about 32 percent from 2008.

"The reason that is especially significant is the challenge is at least 25 to 33 percent greater than it was two years ago," he said.

Basnight cited the down economy for fundraising challenges but noted maintaining an edge with donors will be crucial in the current political climate.