Originally created 05/05/02

Following the money



If the outcome of an election can be fairly predicted by the amount of money candidates raise, Charles Walker Jr. is the man. Money-wise, he's the far-and-away leader in the Democratic primary for the new District 12 congressional seat in Georgia - the district many observers say was custom drawn for Walker Jr. by his state Senate majority leader father.

As of the end of March, Junior had raised $223,000, more than half of it in the first quarter of this year, but short of his goal of over $300,000.

Thirty-five percent of the money he has raised has come from sources that also contributed to his dad, Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta, last year.

The next big-money candidate is not Savannah Mayor Floyd Adams, as many might think. Adams, a popular person in his city, has but $1,000 in his war chest.

He says he'll be running a grass-roots campaign, but this stretched out district will take more than shoe leather. It will take serious money to get advertising in its three separate media markets of Savannah, Augusta and Athens.

The second-richest Democrat is Augusta lawyer Chuck Pardue, who raised $111,500 this year, and whose war chest stands at half of Walker Jr.'s to date. Junior had nearly that amount before the reporting period even began.

Young Walker's money is coming largely from out of the district, and some donations - like the $3,000 from the president of Kmart, are from out of state and show just what kind of muscle a guy known as "Champ" can flex. And the political action committees have not even begun to pick sides - that will happen soon, however.

Pardue, on the other hand, is getting a lot of his contributions from inside the district, with many supporters from Martinez and Evans writing checks.

So it would not be surprising to see Pardue and Junior face each other in a runoff on Sept. 10.

On the Republican side, Waynesboro farmer Cleve Mobley has raised $236,790, which is even more than Walker Jr., and it could be that voters outside Augusta would prefer him - a non-Augustan - over the son of the currently embattled state Senate majority leader, whose questionable ethics cannot help but become an issue for Junior.

Another interesting element of Mobley's war chest is that it comes from individuals spread all over the district, not just from this area, but with dozens of contributions from the Athens and Savannah areas.

Great quantities of local contributions translate into more votes than out-of-district contributors do. For a district that was drawn to be owned by the Democrats, the Republicans have made an interesting showing so far.