Laughridge, of Cartersville, has spent $118,368 so far in his bid to replace Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) in the state Senate seat, according to his last report filed Oct. 28 with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
That number is more than the amount spent by fellow candidates Bruce Thompson, Dwight Pullen, Nicole Ebbeskotte and Christopher G. Nesmith combined.
But Cherokee County GOP Chairman Rick Davies said spending in general doesn’t always translate into votes.
“The amount of money doesn’t always equate to a win, but it certainly helps you get your name and your voice out there,” Davies said Friday. “I think the way elections are being won nowadays is the candidates are getting out, going door to door.”
Laughridge said the spending was necessary.
“We all wish that it wasn’t that expensive to run a campaign,” Laughridge said Thursday. “It’s a very big territory, and it’s very expensive.”
So far in his bid for the seat covering parts of Cherokee, Bartow and Cobb counties, Laughridge has brought in $123,567 in contributions, with $107,819 of that being in loans, reports show. He and his family members made the loans, Laughridge said.
When asked why he would spend so much going for a job that pays just over $17,000 a year, Laughridge said “It was never about the compensation.”
More than a few of Laughridge’s contributions received were from supporters in the automotive industry, where the candidate is employed as a vice president at a car dealership in Cartersville.
Another Bartow candidate, Thompson, comes in second in both contributions and spending.
Thompson’s last filing with the state Oct. 28 shows he has brought in $42,814, including a $10,000 loan he made to his campaign, and he has had $23,547 in expenditures.
While he might not be happy about spending that amount of money, Thompson said Thursday that it was needed.
“You have to spend that to get the name out,” he said, “especially in a special election where people aren’t paying attention.”
Thompson, who began campaigning even before Loudermilk resigned to focus on his U.S. Congress bid, said he has been smart with his money and spent it mostly on the typical expenses like signs and media advertising.
“I didn’t do any TV commercials or anything,” Thompson said. “If we stop today, I get my loan back.”
Several notable contributions have been made to Thompson’s campaign, including $200 from Neighbors for Earl Ehrhart, the campaign group of state Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), and $200 from Todd Rehm, editor of political website GA Pundit. Billie Gingrey, wife of U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), also chipped in $250, reports show.
Records show Canton candidate Pullen coming in at No. 3 in contributions and spending with $11,443 coming in, including $6,683 in loans, and $7,520 going out, as of Oct. 24 when he filed his last report.
Pullen said Thursday he wasn’t sure how much money has affected his campaign.
“We’re just working with what we have to work with,” he said. “We’re just working with the grassroots effort trying to reach the general population.”
Instead of taking monetary action, Pullen said his campaign has been more about “boots on the ground and phone calls.”
His campaign has, however, received a few notable contributions. Those include $250 from Beach For Senate Inc., which is the campaign group of Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), and a total of $750 from Cherokee School Board Attorney Tom Roach and his law firm, records show. Former state legislator and sitting Georgia Director of State Properties Steve Stancil also gave $500, and Don Stevens, Cherokee Airport Authority chairman, contributed $200, according to Pullen’s filing.
According to Woodstock candidate Ebbeskotte’s most recent report filed Oct. 27, she had brought in $1,040 and spent $994, which puts her in fourth in terms of contributions and spending when compared to the others.
Ebbeskotte said Thursday her campaign was never intended to have much to do with money.
“I didn’t think I needed to buy the seat,” she said. “I chose not to take special interest or PAC money. But I also wanted to set the example to the constituents that their tax dollars are important to me.”
Instead of “writing a check to put some signs up,” Ebbeskotte said she has been working hard to get out and meet the voters in a more personal way.
One reported contribution she received was from former Cherokee County Commission Derek Good for $101. Another for $500 came from former Woodstock Mayor and Grassroots Conservatives founder Bill Dewrell and his wife Genella, according to reports.
Based on numbers recited by Adairsville candidate Nesmith on Thursday, he is in last place, having brought in about $800 in contributions but spending between $900 and $1,000.
“It’s a pretty barebones campaign,” Nesmith said.
Just how barebones Nesmith’s campaign is however can’t be verified, because he hasn’t filed campaign finance reports. He may face fines as a result, according to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
“We can have that done in no time,” he said. “It’s just one of those things that was oversight.”
Campaign filings for district 14:
Matt Laughridge: Contributions: $123,567; Expenditures: $118,368
Bruce Thompson: Contributions: $42,814; Expenditures: $23,547
Dwight Pullen: Contributions: $11,443; Expenditures: $7,520
Nicole Ebbeskotte: Contributions: $1,040; Expenditures: $994
Christopher G. Nesmith: Contributions: None reported; Expenditures: None reported
Source: Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission