Cost of 2013 city politics: $117K

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 09:21 AM

Last year’s city election cost its participants, their supporters and Durham’s big-three political groups $117,278, according to reports filed with the county and state elections boards.
The single most expensive race was that for the City Council’s Ward 3 seat, won by incumbent Don Moffitt. His challenger, Pam Karriker, reported spending $9,757; Moffitt spent $28,385.
Moffitt raised $30,410 for the race, the last $2,000 coming from his own wallet. Karriker raised $10,549.
The Ward 2 race saw four candidates spend a collective $30,741, which was actually a bit more than they reported raising.
Eventual winner Eddie Davis led the way, spending $11,592 after raising $14,618.
His closest challenger, Omar Beasley, raised $7,917 and spent $9,064. He started the race with $1,321 left over from a 2012 run for a County Commissioners.
Third-place primary finisher Del Mattioli wound up running a deficit, spending $7,560 after raising $5,575. The remaining candidate, Franklin Hanes, raised and spent $2,525.
The mayor’s race cost its participants $11,415, incumbent Bill Bell leading the way both at the polls and from the bank after spending $8,412.
But he started the race with $4,572 left over from past campaigns and supplemented it with $12,605 in fresh donations.
Second-place finisher Sylvester Williams raised and spent $2,130. Michael Valentine rounded out the field for the October primary, raising and spending $872.
The Ward 1 race was the most economical, unsurprising given that incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden ran unopposed. She spent $200 on her filing fee and, having raised $645, never needed to touch the $1,567 she had in the bank from past elections.
The big-three political groups accounted for about 31 percent of the money spent on the race.
Of them the People’s Alliance led the way, raising $20,240 and spending $21,393. It had $12,253 in the bank to start the year.
It managed to overmatch, financially, the combined efforts of the other big-three groups, the Friends of Durham and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
The Friends raised $7,083 on the year and spent $7,909. Like the PA, it started the election with money in the bank, albeit only $906.
The Durham Committee reported raising $8,631 and spending $8,425.
Both the Friends and the Durham Committee were heavily bankrolled by some of the would-be developers of the controversial 751 South real-estate project.
The committee got $8,000 – 95 percent of what it raised – from 751 South figures Neal Hunter and Alex Mitchell. Hunter gave the Friends $4,000.
The PA backed Moffitt and Davis, while the Friends and the Durham Committee favored Karriker and Beasley.
Hunter and Mitchell also gave individually to candidates the Friends and Durham Committee slate. Karriker received $2,000 from them, counting also a donation from Hunter’s wife. Beasley got $3,000 from Hunter.
All told, the Hunters and Mitchell accounted for $17,000 in giving, about 14 percent of what the participating candidates and groups raised for the 2013 election.
Top PA donors for the second-half of the year included lawyer Tom Miller, who gave the organization $1,795; photographer Laura Drey, who gave $750; Davis, $500; artist and 751 South opponent Carolyn Aaronson, $443; and former City Councilwoman Lorisa Seibel, $430.
The Friends’ top second-half donors included appraiser and Friends leader David Smith, who gave $500, and Healthy Start Academy Executive Director Liz Morey, who gave $200.
The Durham Committee’s only reported large donation in the second half of the year that didn’t come from a 751 South figure was a $400 check from Bell.