Democrat leads money race in Bootheel

Thursday, October 30, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Heading into the final stretch before Tuesday's special election, Democrat Terry Swinger was in a far stronger financial position than the other two Bootheel hopefuls to fill a vacant seat in the House of Representatives.

Swinger, a Caruthersville optometrist, had $20,458 in his campaign coffers as of Oct. 23, according to finance disclosure reports filed this week with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Meanwhile, Republican Bill Wagner of Hayward reported $3,343 on hand and independent candidate Shirley Johnson of Steele had $1,044 in available campaign cash.

The 162nd District seat, which represents Pemiscot County and portions of Dunklin and New Madrid counties, was vacated in June when Democrat Denny Merideth of Caruthersville resigned to take a job with the U.S. Foreign Service Office. The election winner will serve out the remainder of Merideth's term, which ends in January 2005.

Swinger had raised $38,960 for his campaign, which included $7,000 in personal debt.

All but $3,000 of his donations since July 1 came from contributors outside of the district, although many of those outside supporters are from other parts of Southeast Missouri.

He took in $3,175 in cash from interest groups or party sources, most of which gave the maximum of $300 for a state representative race.

The state Democratic Party also provided $2,925 worth of in-kind services for polling.

Wagner, a long-time local radio announcer, had raised $10,775 since launching his bid in August. Of that amount, $4,850 came from inside the district.

He hadn't received any money from interest groups, but Republican lawmakers and party committees provided him $2,775.

A $6,336 loan Johnson made to her campaign provided the bulk of the $7,742 she had for her election effort.

The 162nd District is the last in the Bootheel not controlled by Republicans, who haven't held a Pemiscot County-based seat in 70 years.

mpowers@semissourian.com

(573) 635-4608

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