The candidates are the same, but the river of campaign cash that helped propel Matt Aitken to a runoff victory against Bill Fennoy three years ago has slowed.
Aitken, now the Augusta Commission incumbent defending his seat against a challenge by Fennoy, has raised just $4,240 since the Nov. 6 general election, according to campaign filings due last Friday.
The donations, including $1,500 from event promoter Lewis Blanchard, $200 from builder Rodger Giles, $1,000 each from retired banker Monty Osteen and developer Clay Boardman, and $450 from developer Braye Boardman, plus a handful of smaller contributions, left Aitken $8,548 on hand.
The report, filed Thursday, cited no expenditures.
By comparison, Aitken raised $18,478 during the same period three years ago.
Their second runoff hasn’t attracted the same cash for Fennoy, either. The retired health educator reported raising $2,300 during November, including $500 from International Formal Wear, owned by Development Authority of Richmond County Chairman Henry Ingram.
Fennoy’s largest donation was $750 from from Jim Moss, the director of PRM Consulting, a human resources consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
He also received $500 from lawyer Randy Frails, $200 each from physicians Calvin Hobbs and Andrew Bowman, and a $500 gift from health insurer Cigna.
Three years ago, Fennoy raised $7,755 during the same period. November expenses of more than $7,038 left the candidate with a negative campaign balance Friday of $4,738.
The closely watched runoff has the potential to restore to the commission what some in the community believe should be a racial balance – five black members and five white members.
Aitken, a white chemical plant worker with a prison ministry, surprised many when he won election in the 65 percent black District 1 in 2009.
Watching less closely, however, appear to be the 14,155 registered voters of District 1. Just under 3 percent of them had cast ballots during the eight days of advance voting preceding this Tuesday’s runoff.
Fennoy has been endorsed by former District 1 Commissioner Betty Beard and former mayoral candidate Lori Davis, while Aitken has the stated support of Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and Commissioners Jerry Brigham and Wayne Guilfoyle, and accepted a $500 contribution from retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength.
“I’d feel more comfortable with the known, rather than the unknown, at this point,” Bowles said.
Others have taken a hands-off approach.
Commissioner Bill Lockett called any report that he was supporting Aitken “a blatant lie” and said he would never endorse any candidate in a nonpartisan election.
Commissioners Corey Johnson and Grady Smith and Sheriff-elect Richard Roundtree said they will work with whoever is elected.
“I am supporting the candidate that the citizens of District 1 choose to represent them,” Roundtree said.