Two share bulk of funds in 159th House District

Thursday, July 22, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Two candidates among the five seeking the 159th District seat in the House of Representatives together accounted for 71 percent of the money fueling that race.

The financial front-runner in the three-way Republican primary is Billy Pat Wright of Dexter, who had raised three times more money than opponents Jerry Elder of Bloomfield and Don Stephens of Advance combined as of June 30. On the Democratic side, Ryan William Holder of Advance had collected nearly double that of rival Bruce Wooley.

However, donors had pumped relatively little money into the race, with all five candidates reporting combined receipts of just over $24,000 to the Missouri Ethics Commission. The 159th District covers most of Stoddard County, the southwestern third of Cape Girardeau County and a small portion of Wayne County.

By contrast, the three candidates for the neighboring 158th District seat, which represents most of the city of Cape Girardeau, together reported raising more than $160,000.

The winners of the Aug. 3 Democratic and Republican primaries in the 159th District will advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

For the Republican primary, Wright, a real estate agent, had raised $8,960 during the course of his campaign. However, he brought in only $600, mainly from small individual contributions of under $100, during the finance disclosure period spanning April 1 through June 30. He had $2,149 on hand at the close of the period.

Last quarter donations

Elder, a former member of the Stoddard County Commission, had no money until the last quarter when he reported bringing in $1,400. That total consisted of an $1,100 personal loan and a $300 donation from state Sen. Bill Foster, R-Poplar Bluff. He had $857 left in the bank.

Stephens' campaign was also unfunded until the last quarter when he collected $1,350 -- $1,300 of which was a loan from a family member. Stephens, a retired Baptist pastor, had a mere $118 remaining.

For the Democratic primary, Holder had raised $8,247 overall, including $3,850 in the last quarter. Of his most recent donations, $1,200 came from four organized labor groups each giving the maximum individual donation for a House race of $300, and the Webster County Democratic Central Committee provided $2,500. Political party committees may give a House candidate up to $3,000. Holder had $1,024 remaining on hand.

Wooley, a former Dexter High School teacher and coach, had raised a total of $4,250 for the campaign, including $2,800 in the last quarter. Donors giving the $300 maximum were Dexter lawyer Steve Holden and the United Auto Workers Union of Hazelwood. Wooley had $1,303 in the bank.

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