Following his primary victory last month, Charles I. Ecker, the Republican nominee for county executive, raised $25,033, to increase his campaign war chest by 61 percent.
That's his good news.
His bad news is that during that same period, Democratic incumbent M.
Elizabeth Bobo raised almost twice as much -- $43,681.
Not only that, but included in Ecker's total is another $5,000 he has lent himself. He has advanced his campaign $20,000 since January -- nearly one-third of the $66,345 he has raised altogether.
Ecker also received $4,452 in PAC money and $1,000 from the campaign treasury of Republican Charles C. Feaga, who is running for re-election against Democrat D. Susan Scheidt in the 5th District.
Bobo's campaign is so flush -- she has raised $149,855 since her 1986 election -- that she, like Feaga, is giving money to other campaigns -- $7,500 during the eight weeks through Oct. 21 and $11,282 overall.
Ecker has received maximum contributions of $1,000 each from six contributors since the primary, while Bobo has received only four maximum gifts since then.
Overall, however, Bobo raised $37,892 from contributions and ticket sales during the most recent reporting period -- nearly three times the $13,565 Ecker received from the same sources in the same period.
Campaign expenditures reveal a radical difference in strategy between the two candidates. Ecker is putting most of his money -- $20,528 -- into media advertising. Bobo is spending most of her resources on campaign materials and direct mailings. She has spent only $4,146 on media advertising in four years, with the bulk of that -- $3,300 -- coming in the last eight weeks.
Overall, she has spent $45,770 on campaign materials, direct mailings and postage -- $22,853 in the eight-week reporting period ended Oct. 21.
Ecker has spent $17,576 since January on the same items, but only $2,560 in the last eight weeks.
As of Oct. 21, Bobo showed a balance of $46,659 in her campaign treasury: $21,357 in a checking account and $25,302 in an interest-bearing savings account. Ecker showed a balance of $5,755 in his checking account and $539 in an interest-bearing savings account.
Despite Bobo's largess, the most garish display of campaign wealth is not hers but that of incumbent council member C. Vernon Gray, D-3.
While it's true that the $45,569 Gray has raised doesn't even cover what Bobo has in the bank, it is more than any other council candidate has raised. Not only that, but every other council member faces opposition; Gray has none. Nevertheless, he has been running his campaign as though he were behind, having spent $32,721 so far.
Gray does not apologize for his spending. In fact, he sees his fund raising and campaign spending as an indication of political strength -- something that scared off potential challengers. Gray's bankroll has allowed him to support other campaigns -- albeit modestly, for he has channeled only $2,020 to other candidates. He also has spent some of the money informing his constituents about his activities through a newsletter, he said.
Close behind Gray in terms of raising the most money for a council race is Republican Feaga, with $43,899. He, however, had a tough primary battle and is facing more than token opposition from Democrat Scheidt.
Unlike other Republicans this year, Feaga appears to be shunning a media campaign in favor of direct mailings. In the last eight weeks he has spent $8,761 on campaign materials and postage and has committed $21,017 to them for the entire campaign.
Altogether, Feaga has spent $31,974 on the campaign and still has a balance of $11,925 in his war chest.
To keep pace, challenger Scheidt had to lend herself another $1,500, bringing to $4,500 the total she and her husband have advanced her campaign so far. Including loans, Scheidt has raised $11,665 for her run -- $4,445 in the last eight weeks. She has spent $11,524 and shows a balance of $141.
Like Bobo, council Chairman Shane Pendergrass (D-1) has nearly doubled what her Republican opponent has raised in the last eight weeks. Since her primary victory, Pendergrass has raised $11,798, to Dennis R. Schrader's $6,096.
Altogether, Pendergrass has raised $31,408 and spent $25,838, leaving her a balance of $5,570. Schrader has raised $21,032 and spent $19,938.
In the 2nd District, incumbent Democrat Angela Beltram, the only candidate who refuses to accept contributions from developers, had to make a $2,000 joint loan with her husband to her campaign.
Despite showing a balance of $7,688 in her account, Beltram said she was expecting campaign bills for more than that and wanted to be sure the money was in her account before the end of the most recent reporting period. The Oct. 21 report showed Beltram raising $26,793 and spending $19,105.
Challenger Darrel Drown, who is making a second run at Beltram, has raised $17,122 -- $2,334 in the last eight weeks -- and spent $14,438.
Nearly $2,000 of the $3,470 he has spent in the last eight weeks went for media advertising.
The cheapest council race is in west Columbia, where Republican Michael J. Deets is challenging Democratic incumbent Paul R. Farragut in District 4. Deets has raised but $1,250 for his campaign, with $940 of that coming in the last eight weeks. He has spent $808, mostly for campaign materials.
Farragut raised only $623 in the last eight weeks but has collected $11,430 overall. He has spent $7,383, leaving him a balance of $4,048.