Saturday, August 07, 2004

A wild ride in NC-5

Vernon Robinson: "Our ability to raise money shows how strongly our message resonates with the people of the 5th District."

Out-of-area cash fuels Robinson's fund-raising

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, candidate Vernon Robinson raised $307,000 during July, compared to the paltry $38,000 raised by state Sen. Virginia Foxx, Robinson's runoff opponent for the Republican nomination.

"During the reporting period, Robinson received more than 400 contributions from donors who have given at least $200 during the primary campaign. Nineteen of those donors live in the district.

"Over the same period, Foxx received 43 contributions from donors who have given at least $200. Thirty-three of those came from within the district."

In addition, reports filed between July 29 and Aug. 6 listing contributions of more than $1,000 received by the candidates show Robinson raised $34,610 from 12 contributors, all out of district. Foxx raised $6,500 from four donors, two of whom live in the district.
Robinson's higher profile outside the 5th District probably has a lot to do with his frequent shenanigans: dropping off a 1-ton cement monument of the 10 Commandments outside Winston-Salem City Hall, sponsoring offensive anti-immigrant radio ads and blasting his opponents at every turn, among others. After all, as his own campaign brags, "Jesse Helms is back! And this time, he's black!"

The article fails to mention Democratic Surry County Commissioner Jim Harrell's fundraising, although he has consistently trailed far behind his GOP counterparts in the heavily Republican district. reports that Harrell has raised almost $165,000 in the race, with roughly $77,000 on hand. Compare that to Robinson's $1,981,000 raised, and his $273,109 on hand. Foxx raised $629,277 and has $146,516 on hand.

Foxx has been endorsed by several of the other GOP candidates since the primary, and most mainstream Repubs. should fall behind her rather than Robinson, who has a tendency to produce some pretty outrageous quotes and headlines. But Robinson, who came in first in the primary and obviously has a lead in the cash race, has a big head start.

The question is this: If Robinson wins the nomination in the Aug. 17 runoff, does Jim Harrell suddenly have a chance? The district's conservative and Harrell's way behind in name ID and cash, but if the Republican nominee is so far off the beaten path, could turnout be dampened enough that Harrell might keep it close? Is it worth trying to flood Harrell with money for the general election if he's facing Robinson?


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