Senate candidates raising money for District 13 battle
by Tim Lockette
Oct 03, 2013 | 4062 views |  0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTGOMERY — In a state Senate district that’s likely to be a 2014 battleground, the fundraising battle is already beginning to heat up, even though the election is more than a year away.

Campaign finance documents filed this week show that Darrell Turner, chairman of the Cleburne County Democrats, picked up $29,700 in donations to support his bid for the Senate District 13 seat. Turner ended the month with $51,323 in his campaign coffers.

That nearly matches the $59,512 war chest reported by incumbent Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville. Dial faces a primary challenge from Cleburne County Republican Party chair Tim Sprayberry, who had $8,980 in his campaign at the end of September.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised,” said Grant Hallmark, a Turner campaign spokesman.

Turner, a Heflin resident, works as the business representative for Local 798 of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, a pipefitters’ labor union headquartered in Oklahoma. Campaign records show the union gave him $25,000 in September. He also has multiple individual donations, ranging in size from $200 to $3,000 from individual out-of-state donors, many of them in Oklahoma. Hallmark said those donors were largely union supporters who knew Turner through his work.

Dial raised a similar amount in September. An amended campaign finance report, filed Sept. 30, shows the incumbent raising $61,800 over a two-month period, with about a third of that raised in September. The biggest donors listed in that report were a series of political action committees — TRUK PAC, CAN PAC and BI PAC — which gave $5,000 each.

TRUK PAC represents the Alabama Trucking Association. CAN PAC and BI PAC are run by the Montgomery lobbying firm Fine, Geddie and Associates, and exist to promote “pro-development” candidates, according to the PACs’ filings with the Secretary of State’s office.

Dial said the donations came from a fundraiser friends held for him in Montgomery.

“These are people I’ve worked with in Montgomery, I know them and they know me, and they held this event,” he said.

Dial's fundraising outpaced that of Tim Sprayberry, his primary opponent. Sprayberry had only $8,980 at the end of September, after paying various campaign expenditures, including $6,981 to Louisiana-based Republican strategist John Kay.

Sprayberry’s biggest donor to date has been A-VOTE, the PAC for the Alabama Education Association, which gave him $30,000 in August. Sprayberry spent more than half of that money on administrative expenses in the same month.

Attempts to reach Sprayberry for comment Thursday were unsuccessful. In remarks to The Star in early September, he said he accepted the money from AEA after a discussion with the group’s executive secretary, Henry Mabry, but didn’t discuss specific policy positions.

"Mr. Mabry only asked that I be willing to have an open dialogue with him," Sprayberry said at the time.

Leaders of Alabama Democratic Majority, a Democratic group, said earlier this year that the District 13 seat was one of several they were targeting statewide in an effort to deny Republicans a supermajority in the Senate.

House District 29

In House District 29, incumbent Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, reported $12,002 in campaign funds at the end of September. Etowah County Coroner Michael Gladden, the Democratic candidate, had $25,000, the result of a donation from A-VOTE in August.

Attempts to reach Gladden Thursday were unsuccessful. Nordgren had $5,200 in donations from PACs in September, including BI PAC and the Alabama Power employees’ PAC. In comments to The Star, she stressed money she received from individual donors in August.

“I have support from multiple entities ranging from $25 to $5,000,” she said.

Calhoun County wasn’t part of District 29 in the 2010, but after recent redistricting, it now includes a swath of the county’s rural north.

Senate District 11

In Senate District 11, incumbent Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, lags far behind his primary opponent Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, in fundraising. McClendon had $157,418 at the end of September. Fielding had $35,326, about half of it raised in September.

Medical marijuana activist Ron Crumpton, who has announced as a Democratic candidate for Senate District 11, has yet to file any campaign finance paperwork.

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, lagged behind primary challenger Steve Dean in the fundraising race. Hurst had $1,653 at the end of September, to Dean’s $10,085, though Hurst did spend more than $7,800 on advertising and polling during the month.

Other races

Several local lawmakers are as yet unopposed in their districts. Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, had $99,500 in campaign funds. Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, had $71,781. Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, had $14,476. Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, had $873 in campaign funds.

Republicans hold all of Alabama’s statewide constitutional offices, and so far, no Democrats have emerged to challenge either Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey or Gov. Robert Bentley.

Bentley had $1.9 million in campaign funds at the end of September, campaign records show. His Republican primary opponent, Stacy George, had $45.

Capitol & statewide correspondent Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

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