CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Stephen Smith’s campaign in the Democratic primary for governor continues to be fueled by small-dollar donations.

Stephen Smith

Smith’s campaign reported $149,816 in contributions for the 3rd Quarter campaign finance reporting period. That is more than the $146,000 the Smith campaign raised the prior quarter. 

To date, the Smith campaign has raised $452,692.34 overall. After expenses, the campaign has $166,866 cash on hand.

Of all candidates in the 2020 race for governor, only Republican candidate Woody Thrasher generated more contributions than Smith this reporting period. Thrasher’s campaign reported $254,330 in donations.

The deadline for the quarterly financial reports was Monday. Smith’s report was not publicly available in time for an earlier MetroNews story about the campaign finances.

The race for West Virginia’s governor is still taking shape, but the campaign reports begin to show the financial health of the campaigns and which ones may have the resources to put forth their messages.

The Democratic field opened up at the start of September when U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a former governor, announced he would not run.

State Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, started talking right away about running and then officially announced his candidacy a couple of weeks ago. Stollings filed so recently that his campaign did not yet have fundraising information to report this quarter.

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango is expected to soon announce his own Democratic campaign. Salango is a plaintiffs attorney who is expected to be able to provide significant amounts of his own funding.

Democrat Jody Murphy, who has been director of the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce, released a policy platform last week that includes giving away land to attract new business and industry and offering cash incentives to attract new residents. Murphy’s campaign reported negative $251 cash on hand at the end of this period.

Several registered candidates listed no contributions at all.

Smith’s filing includes 54 pages listing people who contributed less than $250. There were 13 pages of people who contributed more than that.

The Smith campaign had several fundraisers including one in Dallas that raised $5,529, another in Morgantown for $870, one in Charleston for $1,915, another in Charleston for $349, one in South Charleston for $3,350, another in Charleston for $2,920, one in Culloden for $795 and another in Charleston for $552.

“The only way we get a government of the people is to have campaigns funded by the people,” Smith stated. “We’re proud to break the record for small donations in a West Virginia governor’s race. And we’re just getting started.”

Smith’s supporters noted that the campaign for incumbent Gov. Jim Justice has raised $71,100 while Justice has loaned his campaign $325,500 so far. Justice put up $4 million of his own wealth for his 2016 campaign.

Thrasher, who owns an engineering firm bearing his name, has raised $290,715.20 so far while loaning his campaign $658,777.10.

“We don’t think the Governor’s office should be for sale. That’s one more reason we’re taking on millionaires and billionaires like Thrasher and Justice who aim to buy the governorship,” stated Katey Lauer, campaign manager for Smith.

“This is not new. It’s how Good Old Boys Club politics works: rich candidates throw millions into a race, buy an election, and then promote their own interests in office. West Virginians are right to feel that government doesn’t serve us. When candidates self-fund, it doesn’t.”

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