Last updated: August 03. 2014 1:17AM - 945 Views
By - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com



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DOBSON — With more than three months remaining until Election Day, Sheriff’ Graham Atkinson’s re-election campaign is outspending that of his challenger, Ervin Odum, by nearly a 4-to-1 margin.


And in terms of fundraising, the gap is about the same, according to the most recent campaign finance reports submitted by treasurers of the two candidates.


Contributions and other receipts logged so far for Atkinson, a Democrat seeking his third term, total $45,930, with Odum’s stockpile standing at $11,923. Spending has totaled $24,220 for Atkinson and $6,473 for Odum, a Republican.


Those figures reflect totals through the second quarter of the campaign cycle and were filed in July with the Surry County Board of Elections. A final report will be required after the Nov. 4 general election and submitted around the first of next year as part of a process promoting openness in campaign financing to avoid abuses.


The sheriff’s race’s tends to be the most expensive among any local elected office, and the amounts reported thus far reinforce that trend.


Atkinson offered some insight about the spending levels reached after $70,578 was devoted toward his last re-election in 2010, compared to $10,108 for another Republican hopeful whom Atkinson defeated with nearly 60 percent of the vote.


“The difference in our race and the commissioners’ races and some of the other things is this is my full-time job,” Atkinson said then regarding his law enforcement career that began in the 1980s.


“And what I ran for in 2010 was to keep the job that I’ve had the last 25 years, and I just didn’t want to leave anything to chance,” the sheriff added of his strategy that involved launching fundraising efforts well before that year began.


Funding Sources

The lists of contributors for the Atkinson and Odum campaigns of 2014 reveal a range of sources.


Financial documents show that Atkinson began this year’s election cycle with cash on hand of $8,214.


Individual contributions of $39,625 have been reported for the incumbent, dominated by donations from hundreds of contributors ranging from $50 to $200. The list of those takes up 66 pages of a total campaign finance report of 74 pages.


Those giving to the Atkinson re-election bid have included present elected officials such as Clerk of Court Becky Brendle along with Pam Marion, former clerk; Register of Deeds Carolyn Comer; Assistant District Attorney Tim Watson; District Court Judge William Southern; a former county commissioner; Dr. Jim Harrell; and Teresa Lewis and Swanson Richards, two former city commissioners in Mount Airy.


Other names spotted on the list have ties to the local law enforcement and legal communities, including Connie Watson, who served as sheriff before Atkinson.


The Odum campaign, meanwhile, reports several major contributors in the second-quarter report that is nine pages altogether.


One is Javier Herrera, a Dobson businessman listed as the president of Carolina Carports Inc., who has given $3,000.


That same amount has been contributed by both Monica Herra and Caroline Herra, two Elkin residents, and Odum has made a series of loans to his own campaign totaling $2,400, the financial documents show.


Expenditures Vary

The second-quarter expense report shows that the Ervin Odum for Sheriff campaign has spent $2,669 for 1,000 24-by-18-inch signs, and a total of $1,225 for banners, business cards, magnetic signs and rack cards, among other disbursements.


Major disbursements reported on Atkinson’s behalf in the most recent filing period — $13,652 altogether — include $4,401 to a Mount Airy meat supplier for food at a fundraising event; $5,400 to Buck Bond, Bruce Hodges, John Snow, Mickey Southern and Heather Livengood for ticket drawings;


Also, $625 to a Dobson insurance agency for event coverage; a $750 fundraising donation to Children’s Center of Surry; $500 to Shawn Leftwich for website/Facebook work; $500 to Don Snow for cooking at a fundraiser; and $340 for golf tournament sponsorships.


At last report, the Atkinson campaign had cash on hand of $29,924 and the Odum campaign, $5,449.


Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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