Emerson, Sowers reach $1 million in campaign funding

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The fundraising race in the 8th Congressional District gave both leading candidates something to brag about in the second quarter of the year, and once again how that money is being raised became ammunition for the opposition.

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau reported her best quarter of the campaign, taking in $531,000 to bring her total for the campaign to $1.44 million. In the period from April 1 to June 30, Emerson took in $310,255 from individuals and $220,750 from political action committees.

Democratic Party challenger Tommy Sowers' bragging point for the second quarter of the year is that he raised $333,737 during the period, putting his total at $1.01 million and making his campaign the best-funded of any Democrat to challenge Emerson.

For Emerson's campaign, the report from Sowers was a chance to continue criticism that the large sums he's accumulating are largely from people living outside Missouri. Sowers, a former U.S. Army Major, Iraq War veteran and professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is being helped by retired Gen. Wesley Clark and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Medal of Honor winner, to raise money.

Kerrey was recently named head of the Motion Picture Association of America, Emerson campaign leader Josh Haynes noted, and he is likely one of the reasons Sowers has successfully raised large individual donations from addresses in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

"It speaks a lot as to who is taking an interest in this race," Haynes said. "When you look at some of the people who have given, you find a lot of people who couldn't find" the 8th District "on a map and have never been here. It raises some questions."

Overall, 73 percent of Sowers' individual donations in the second quarter came from people living outside Missouri. Emerson, meanwhile, received almost 90 percent of her individual donations from Missouri residents.

For the Sowers camp, Emerson's continued reliance on donations from political action committees to fund her campaign is evidence of her obligations to special interests who help keep her in office. If Emerson and Sowers were limited to donations from individuals, he would be leading the fundraising contest by more than $200,000.

Of Emerson's donations from PACs, 86 percent are headquartered outside Missouri.

"The mismatch between us is striking," Feifs said. "We've had a couple of veterans groups to help us. She has had hundreds of thousands of dollars of PAC money. That is the D.C. lobbyists coming to the rescue of the other D.C. lobbyist. She's cashed in every favor she's accumulated over 14 years."

Emerson was formerly an insurance industry representative.

Emerson is opposed in the Aug. 3 Republican primary by Texas County farmer and rancher Bob Parker. He is hoping to find support among tea party activists but raised only $9,657 in the second quarter. He has raised a total of $27,586 for his campaign across the 28-county district, including a loan of $7,221 to his campaign.

Larry Bill of Jackson, an independent hoping to find a place on the ballot through a petition drive, is funding most of his own campaign effort and added $900 to the account during the second quarter. Bill has raised $1,497 from individuals and added $2,951 to the campaign.

The defenses offered by each leading campaign for the way they raise money remain similar to those used after previous disclosure reports have been filed.

Emerson's campaign is being helped by the PACs that give not to create obligations but to show support to the district to which they have ties, Haynes said. "When you look at Jo Ann and her record, her vote is not for sale," Haynes said. "When she has priorities, they are the priorities of the district and they are invoked accordingly. They are the interests of the people who go to work and live in the 8th District. If you turn that logic around, what will be the priorities of our opponent, the priorities of the 8th District or the priorities of Hollywood and New York?"

Feifs said the individuals who are contributing from outside the state aren't trying to impose their values on the 8th District. "There is a clear distinction between contributions from individuals and contributions from PACs. Raising money from individuals is an area where we have clearly bested Jo Ann Emerson and the individuals who give to Tommy's campaign do so because they admire what he is doing to bring new ideas, new leadership and a real commitment to improving the economic base of his home district."



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