Friday, November 4, 2016

North Mecklenburg digging out of paper blizzard

By Halloween night the “Great Blizzard of 2016” began to taper off, or at least that’s what the locals here in North Mecklenburg hoped.  It had been a long and stormy season, and at this point many were not sure how much more of this “weather” their spirits could take.

You may be asking yourself,  “Great Blizzard?!?!  What on earth could he possibly be talking about?”  It topped 80 degrees on Halloween.  Snow, much less a blizzard, is the furthest thing from most minds right now.

No, it’s not a blizzard of snow and ice we’ve been experiencing.  Instead, it’s been the constant blast of paper stuffing local mailboxes this election season that people are finding hard to take.  By Halloween, at least 50 flyers for and against various political candidates have landed in North Mecklenburg mailboxes.  Like any measurement of accumulation amounts vary depending on your exact location.  Some get more.  Some get less.  However, this season it seems more pervasive than others.

What makes this even more unusual, is that it’s not the historically divisive Presidential campaign that’s generated most of the volume.  No, it’s the race between Republican incumbent John Bradford of Cornelius and Unaffiliated challenger Jane Campbell of Davidson for NC House 98 in the North Carolina General Assembly that has generated the most flyers – by far.  The district covering Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville’s east side and the Highland Creek area of Charlotte has been hit with at least 30 flyers from both sides starting in mid-September.

Like two equally heavily armed camps in a giant snowball fight the number of flyers have shown almost equal support for each side.  Though in fairness most have been attacking their opponent as much or more than promoting their own candidate.

To keep up this constant barrage requires a lot of money, and Halloween, October 31st, also happens to be the last day for campaigns and outside political groups to file their third quarter campaign finance disclosures.  The reports for both the Campbell and Bradford campaigns showed up on the State Board of Elections site that day as well.

Here are the highlights.

The campaigns raised comparable amounts from individual donors so far this election.  As a challenger, Campbell raised a very respectable $92,218 to Bradford’s $103,803.  Both candidates appeared to garner most of their individual support from their respective home bases within the district.

Bradford pulled ahead significantly in the cash race by raking in $54,800 from “Other Political Committees”.  That would be from other elected officials and industry PACs.  Campbell drew just $10,910.

Both campaigns sent huge amounts to their respective parties.

Campbell sent $55,000 to the NC Democrats.  Yes, technically she’s an “Unaffiliated” but Campbell is essentially running as the replacement Democrat since the party didn’t field one during the filing period.  Bradford sent $30,000 to the NCGOP.  Effectively, both candidates are paying for much of the flyers landing in local mailboxes through these payments to their respective parties.

At this point it would look like the incumbent has a sizable advantage, but the campaigns’ reports don’t tell the whole story.  Both sides also received significant outside help this cycle.  Third party groups that aren’t allowed to coordinate with the campaigns can effectively spend as much as they want to influence elections, and spend they did in this race.

As of the end of October, a group out of Raleigh called NC Families First has dumped $164,849 in opposition ads against Bradford or in support of Campbell.  On the other side Bradford has benefited from $20,000 in support from the NC Realtors.  Flyers have also gone out from the Mainstreet Merchants group and NC Citizens for Freedom in Education in support of his campaign. However, as of this writing numbers for those groups are not available.

So while Bradford’s campaign itself raised more money up through the Q3 of this year, the overall effort to elect Campbell appears to have the lead in total funding.

Regardless, both sides have a ton of money to spend and that has set the conditions for the paper blizzard we’ve been experiencing.

This post first appeared in the Herald Weekly at

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