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Rochelle war chest heavier than Beavers
Jul 18, 2006 12:00 am
Former state Sen. Bob Rochelle came out of the gate with guns blazing, his already ample campaign war chest growing by more than $70,000 in just three months.
According to campaign disclosure reports filed this week with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, Rochelle has nearly $220,000 on hand with incumbent Sen. Mae Beavers reporting just less than $120,000 after raising nearly $24,000 in the same time period.
Meanwhile, Rochelle's primary opponent, Lebanon attorney Aubrey Givens received just $631 in contributions, but made four loans to his campaign totaling $23,000 in the past three months.
Enjoying the fruits of incumbency, Beavers received contributions from state Sens. Randy McNally and Ron Ramsey to the tune of $2,000 each.
But Rochelle is also receiving support from top names within his party. The former senator received $1,000 from Friends of McWherter, the political action committee associated with former Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter. He also received a $1,000 contribution from state Sen. Joe Haynes, a Goodlettsville Democrat who chairs the state Senate Democratic Caucus.
The caucus has endorsed Rochelle in the primary against Givens.
Locally, Rochelle received $250 from former Tennessee Democratic Party chair and Lebanon City Councilor William Farmer. He also garnered nearly $25,000 in in-district contributions – just more than a third of his total.
"When you have local contributors, that usually translates into local votes," Rochelle said.
Beavers also took in $3,750 from addresses within the district, about 15 percent of her total.
The current senator received funds from business PACs such as Dell and the trucking industry.
Beavers said her fundraising numbers are sure to grow, with a massive contribution expected from the Senate Republican Caucus and a recent fundraiser which took place after the June 30 period.
"We haven't had a big fundraiser (in the last quarter)," Beavers said. "We had one after the filing deadline, so that's not on there, and we have several planned."
Beavers took note of the large business contributions to Rochelle's campaign, saying it was indicative of "who has the grassroots support and who has the special interests support."
Rochelle drew drastically more than Beavers in PAC funds, including $7,500 from the BellSouth Employees of Tennessee. Beavers received only $500 from the group.
Rochelle explained Wednesday his Lebanon law firm, Rochelle, McCulloch and Aulds, does "legal work" for BellSouth.
"We have lawyers in the firm, they perform legal services for the company, just as we do for all the other clients of the law firm," Rochelle said. "… We've had a long-term relationship with companies … things like telephone cooperatives that deal in infrastructure."
Other PACs contributing to Rochelle are Friends of THA (Tennessee Hospital Association), Insurors of Tennessee and several other non-descript PACs supporting Democratic candidates.
Another large PAC contribution to Rochelle,came from the Nashville Fire Fighters Local 140 Committee in the amount of $5,000. Beavers was among a group of legislators who fought and ultimately succeeded in stopping a piece of legislation which would have allowed firefighters to unionize.
All told, Rochelle received $18,000 in PAC money, compared to none for Givens and $3,500 for Beavers.
Where is Aubrey?
On paper, Givens' campaign to face Beavers in the November general election looks to be in serious trouble.
He had only one itemized contribution – $500 from a Lebanon restaurant worker – and $131 in unitemized contributions.
Givens has largely financed his own campaign to this point, and numerous signs feature his name throughout the 17th District.
The Lebanon attorney has said his current focus is "getting out and meeting the citizens of the 17th District … letting them know that I want to be their next state senator, and I'm going to be honest in the way I deal with things."
Like Beavers, Givens pointed to what he called "grassroots support."
"I'm certainly meeting a lot of voters, people who actually go to the polls and vote, not someone from Nashville or somewhere that don't even vote in this district," Givens said.
He said he has been actively traveling the district, but is "asking for their votes at this point," although he said "a lot" of people pledged financial support.
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.