Hopefuls’ funds are still uneven|Editor’s note: This is the ninth installment in an occasional series on campaign finance.

Published 4:26 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Staff Writer

Leading local Republicans and their allies continue to consolidate their financial support around the campaign of state House candidate Bill Cook.
But Cook’s Washington-based opponent, Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, retains a seemingly insurmountable fundraising lead.
Each man hopes to be elected to represent House District 6, which encompasses Beaufort County and a slice of northeast Pitt County.
Cook, a resident of the Cypress Landing community, had more than $8,000 cash on hand at the recent end of the second-quarter reporting period.
Cook’s collected total has shot ahead from a few months ago, but it’s still dwarfed by Williams’ cash-on-hand amount, which surpassed $121,550.
Asked how — or if — Williams’ flush-with-cash coffers could translate into votes, Lawrence Davenport, the candidate’s Pitt County campaign chairman, focused on the lawmaker’s record.
“I don’t know exactly how that’s going to swing the vote one way or the other, particularly the money,” Davenport said. “I think Arthur’s done an excellent job, and I think he’ll be hard to beat.”
Asked to elaborate, he said, “I don’t think there’s anybody in Raleigh that works any harder than he does, and he works for his people. He doesn’t have an agenda of his own. He’s working for the people back home, and he’s known for that.”
Cook acknowledged that fundraising is “a problem area” for him.
“I understand it’s a problem area for most folks right now because of the economy,” he said. “Folks just don’t have the money to put out there because of the economy.”
Cook said he tries to campaign around 30 hours each week, knocking on around 50 doors per day.
His fourth fundraiser is set for Monday in Washington.
Williams wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Over the past few months, some of Williams’ largest contributions were from political action committees and professional organizations.
He got $1,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s political action committee, $1,000 from the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association and $500 from the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.
Williams has spent little of his money so far, though he has passed on some of his cash to other candidates, including state Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe.
Cook listed 52 contributions from individuals who gave him as little as $5 or as much as $50 during the second-quarter period.
No names or addresses are listed next to those small contributed amounts.
According to the Beaufort County Board of Elections, state law doesn’t require that the names of contributors giving $50 or less to a candidate be listed in the candidate’s campaign reports.
Cook received $150 from Bertie Arnhols, a Republican-turned-unaffiliated voter who is running for Beaufort County commissioner as an unaffiliated candidate.
“I think he has very conservative values, many of which match my own,” Arnhols said. “Especially at this level, it’s going to cost him a lot more money than it’s going to cost me in my campaign.”
Cook got $100 from Ashley Woolard, Republican candidate for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
Cook also got two $60 checks from Larry Britt, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party, one on May 13 and the other on June 18.
Also on the list of Cook’s givers was $60 from Donald Dixon, GOP candidate for Beaufort County sheriff.
There has been little change on the Beaufort County commissioner fundraising front since the last quarterly campaign reports came in during the month of April.
Reports on file at the Beaufort County elections office indicated Arnhols is ahead of other commissioner hopefuls — three Democrats, three Republicans — in terms of fundraising.
Arnhols reported total receipts of more than $2,900 so far this election cycle. She had $519.80 cash on hand at the close of the period.
By contrast, incumbent GOP Commissioner Al Klemm showed $328 cash on hand in his campaign account, and calculated just $26.15 in operating expenses.
His campaign had an outstanding loan of $609.69.
Klemm has said he won’t officially kick off his campaign until next month.
Klemm did get a $100 contribution from Cook.
Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County’s elections director, said she expected another updated report from a commissioner candidate this week, but it was unclear who the candidate was or how much he or she had raised.
Staff Writer Betty Mitchell Gray contributed to this report.