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Campaign Finance Report Shows Momentum for Candidates After Primary

CHARLESTON — Candidates going into the November general election after the June 9 primary filed campaign finance reports for the second quarter Tuesday.

Candidates for Board of Public Works offices had until the end of the day Tuesday to electronically file their second quarter campaign finance reports with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

The report covers campaign donations between May 25 and June 30 — 15 days before the June 9 primary and 21 days after. Board of Public Works races include governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and agriculture commissioner.

In the governor’s race, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango — the winner of the Democratic primary — raised substantially more than Republican Gov. Jim Justice during the quarter. Salango raised $272,802 for the quarter, bringing his year-to-date donations to $988,430.

Salango has spent $1.1 million to date, most of which was spent to beat community organizer Stephen Smith in the primary. Salango defeated Smith 39 percent to 34 percent, coming in ahead of Smith and three other candidates. The Salango campaign has $500,000 in debts and loans and has $251,217 in cash-on-hand.

“There is energy across West Virginia to replace Jim Justice and elect a new governor who can actually get things done for working people,” Salango said in a statement. “West Virginians are tired of the corruption and self-dealing from Jim Justice and our early fundraising success confirms that.”

Even though Smith lost, his campaign raised $54,569 during the quarter, raising $975,275 year-to-date, leaving him with $25,719 in cash in his campaign account which can be used to support other candidates in the WV Can’t Wait movement.

Justice raised $71,142 during the quarter, bringing his total campaign donations year-to-date to $700,625 and leaving him with $1.9 million from campaign debts and loans. The Justice campaign spent $2.5 million during the primary, leaving Justice with $39,592 in cash-on-hand. The Justice campaign declined to comment.

Justice was also outspent in the June 9 Republican primary by Woody Thrasher.

The businessman and former secretary of the Department of Commerce raised $7,925 during the quarter for a grand total of $460,618 in donations year-to-date. Thrasher loaned his campaign $3.8 million and spent $4.3 million in his effort to defeat Justice, but Thrasher lost the primary with 18 percent of the vote compared to Justice’s 63 percent.

In the Attorney General’s race, Republican incumbent Patrick Morrisey didn’t face any primary opposition, spending only $79,866 year-to-date. He raised $271,569 during the quarter and $620,655 year-to-date with just $65,661 in campaign debt. That leaves Morrisey with $602,503 in cash-on-hand.

“We are pleased that so many West Virginians have responded to our campaign and deep record of accomplishment,” Morrisey said in a statement. “While the opposition remains deeply divided after a far-left candidate won a close primary, we are gaining strength from Republicans, Democrats, independents, conservatives, and moderates alike.”

Morrisey’s Democratic opponent, Fayette County public interest attorney Sam Brown Petsonk, accused the Morrisey campaign of being funded by mostly out-of-state interests while Petsonk’s campaign boasts more small-dollar donations.

“It’s a shame that so few West Virginians have confidence in their Attorney General,” Petsonk said. “Sadly, it’s no surprise after watching Morrisey jeopardize basic health insurance for hundreds of thousands of citizens, and the overdose rate has doubled, and our coal and gas workers have lost wages, benefits, and jobs with no effective response from the AG.”

Petsonk raised $54,913 for the quarter and $267,092 year-to-date with only $75,000 of debt. Petsonk spent $209,943 during the Democratic primary, defeating attorney and Pendleton County Del. Isaac Sponaugle by just 145 votes. Petsonk won with 86,849 votes to Sponaugle’s 86,704 votes. Petsonk ended the quarter with $81,994 in cash-on-hand.

In the race for Secretary of State, Republican incumbent Mac Warner and Democratic former secretary of state Natalie Tennant are heading into the third quarter evenly matched for money. Warner raised more money in the second quarter with $23,710 for a total of $163,739 year-to-date. With no primary challengers, Warner spent only $71,065 during the quarter.

Tennant raised $12,162 during the quarter for a total of $115,875 year-to-date. Also having no primary challengers, Tennant spent $22,196. Going into the third quarter, Warner has $92,865 in cash-on-hand, while Tennant has $91,678 in cash-on-hand.

“I’m very proud of the support I’ve been given across the state, and it builds every day,” Tennant said. “As you can see, we have far more people investing and volunteering. That’s what results in a winning campaign. My opponent knows that. That’s why he pulled a political ploy in regard to a debate challenge – which I readily accepted.”

A request for comment from the Warner campaign was not returned Wednesday. Recently, Warner wrote an op-ed challenging Tennant, whom he defeated in 2016 after she served two terms as secretary of state starting in 2009. Tennant called for multiple debates across the state.

“I think we should debate five times across the state so voters can see and hear the clear difference in management styles and how we serve the state,” Tennant said.

In other Board of Public Works races:

Democratic State Treasurer John Perdue raised $6,750 during the quarter and has $201,760 in his war chest. His Republican challenger, former Jefferson County lawmaker Riley Moore, raised $19,046 during the quarter, leaving him with $68,492 after expenses.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt raised $7,225 during the quarter but has $44,350 saved up. His Democratic challenger, Monongalia County state Sen. Bob Beach, raised $4,245 during the quarter, leaving him with $2,785 going into the third quarter.

Republican State Auditor J.B. McCuskey, raised $200 during the quarter and $72,655 year-to-date, leaving him with $44,479 in the campaign account. McCuskey is being challenged again by Democrat Mary Ann Claytor, who raised $1,872 during the quarter, but has raised only $8,159 year-to-date, leaving her with $6,073 in cash-on-hand.

The third quarter campaign finance reports covering July 1 to Sept. 30 will be due by Oct. 7.

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