Hopson raises nearly $100,000|[10/11/07]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2007

Campaigning for Warren County’s legislative seats heated up along with the temperatures in July, August and September, as money raised in several races has outpaced contributions for the same offices four years ago.

For Senate District 23, Republican nomineer W. Briggs Hopson III reported raising $99,585 through Sept. 30, according to the fourth of five mandatory campaign finance reports due before the Nov. 6 general election. Expenditures totaling $65,597.24 have gone largely to advertising.

Hopson’s campaign fund- raising included contributions from the legal and business sources. Two groups that gave money to Rep. Chester Masterson during the primary, Mississippi Association of Realtors and Mississippi Manufacturing Association, were reported contributing to Hopson in the recent filing.

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Hopson, 42, defeated Masterson and James “Buddy” Terrell with 61 percent of the vote in the Aug. 7 Republican primary.

No report for the April 29 to Sept. 30 filing period was available for his Democratic opponent, Eric Rawlings. The local businessman reported having raised $4,200 as of July 31.

The amount raised in the race easily outdistances the 2003 race between Chaney and attorney Marcie Southerland by more than 50 percent, as that race had generated just $51,745 by mid-October.

District 23 covers Warren County, Issaquena County and southwest Yazoo County. The seat is being vacated by Sen. Mike Chaney, R-Vicksburg, who is running statewide for commissioner of insurance.

In House District 54, Republican Alex Monsour reported $55,178 in contributions, with $40,000 coming from his personal finances. With $50,486.79 of it reported spent, it leaves the two-time county and legislative candidate with $4,691.21 on hand.

In advertisements, Monsour, 45, has run more of a party-line campaign than Hopson, stressing social issues while Hopson has touted education as a key topic. In this period’s filing, Monsour reported spending $29,568 on services from Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Insights, a public affairs firm specializing in helping Republicans get elected in the South.

Monsour defeated attorney Ryan Sadler in the Aug. 7 primary with 60 percent of the vote. In 2003, Masterson defeated Monsour in the primary.

Democrat Jennifer Thomas, 42, reported $11,820 raised and $1,628.79 spent, with $10,191.21 on hand. Thomas was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Independent Thomas Setser reported $8,215.94 raised, $4,508.93 spent and $1,907.01 on hand. Both Thomas and Setser, 34, have ramped up advertising recently and have participated in candidate forums.

District 54 covers most of Warren County’s non-municipal population, all of Issaquena County and part of Sharkey County.

In the race for city-based District 55, no report was available for Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg. The area’s longest-serving public official had reported raising $18,179.92 as of July 31, with $8,991.37 spent and $9,188.55 on hand. His Republican challenger, Rick McAlister, reported $7,546.33 raised and $7,541.33 spent, leaving just $5 on hand as of Sept. 30.

Flaggs, 54, is facing opposition for the first time since 1995. The district covers central and north Vicksburg, plus northwest Warren County.

For district attorney, the rematch between incumbent Gil Martin and attorney Ricky Smith is also seeing more money raised and spent.

Martin, 62, an independent, reported raising $23,350 and spending $21,550, both higher figures than at this point in 2003 when the two combined to raise just $21,758 by mid-October.

No report was available for Smith, who had raised $18,658 by July 31.

For tax assessor, incumbent Richard Holland reported a deficit for the period, raising $5,950 and spending $6,605. No report was available for opponent Pat Ring, running as an independent, who reported $15,922 in contributions by July 31.

In other races on the local level, the money chase is ramping up in races for county supervisor in District 1 and District 4.

District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, coming off a slim primary victory over John Arnold, reported $8,689 raised and $5,581.28 spent with $3,107 on hand. The two-term incumbent faces independents Margaret Gilmer and Tony Ford in the general election.

Gilmer reported $4,115 raised through September, with $2,753.65 spent and $1,361.35 on hand. No report was available for Ford.

In 2003, McDonald and three other candidates spent just $10,804 through the September period.

Much of the contributions in the contest have been reported as “non-itemized,” reflecting a collection of small contributions below the $200 limit for reporting them on financial filings. During the primary season, McDonald reported a $4,000 personal contribution.

In District 4, incumbent Carl Flanders reported $6,541 raised and $5,821.31 spent, with $719 on hand. Among contributions was one for $1,000 from Lampkin Construction.

Opponent and former supervisor Bill Lauderdale reported raising $5,746 and spending $2,445 during the period. Among significant contributions were gifts of $1,000 from the late Raymond Ray and $500 from Ergon Refining owner Les Lampton.

Both Flanders and Lauderdale are running as independents. No report was available for Republican C.L. “Buddy” Hardy. Spending for the district’s seat has doubled over the 2003 general campaign.

In District 2, incumbent William Banks reported raising $2,348 in his race against independent Tommie Rawlings. No report was available for Rawlings. In District 5, challenger Kenneth Sharp Jr. reported raising $3,700 by Sept. 30, while incumbent Richard George raised $1,900. Republican Joe Wooley reported raising $700.

Northern District Constable candidates Glenn McKay and Eddie Hoover filed reports, showing minimal to no money raised. Neither candidate for Central District Constable, Randy Naylor nor James E. Jefferson Jr., had a report available.