By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Among those vying for the 1st District congressional seat, only Republicans Alan Nunnelee and Henry Ross had filled their war chests prior to the new year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Ross, an attorney and former Eupora mayor, had raised $60,696 – including a $58,000 loan from himself – and had spent $9,265 last year. Of that, $1,300 was raised in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The freshman incumbent, Nunnelee, had earned $191,960 in the fourth quarter of 2011 and had $433,634 cash on hand as of Dec. 31. His total 2011 campaign earnings were $633,810.
Tuesday marked the deadline for filing fourth-quarter 2011 campaign finance figures for congressional races, but only Ross’ report was available on the FEC website as of that evening. Nunnelee’s report had been filed but wasn’t yet available online; campaign manager Morgan Baldwin provided a summary to the Daily Journal.
No reports were available for Republican Robert Estes, Democrat Brad Morris or Libertarian Danny Bedwell.
“Fundraising is going well for us,” Ross said, explaining he never stopped collecting contributions from his 2010 campaign, which is why he already had a small war chest going into the current race.
“The people who gave last time, it seems, are giving more this time,” Ross said. We’re gearing up for a short campaign, and we have to put the message out that I’m a real conservative.”
Ross also said he’s not discouraged by Nunnelee’s vastly larger financial reserves. His opponent considerably outspent him two years ago, he said, yet he still came within less than 1,000 votes of a runoff.
As for Nunnelee, his staff anticipates a long campaign season that sees him winning the March 13 primary and going to the November general election.
Morgan Baldwin, who heads Nunnelee’s campaign, said money so far has gone toward consulting fees and travel expenditures in laying the groundwork for a big push later on.
“Fundraising has gone great,” Baldwin said. “The congressman has been fortunate to have very strong support in Mississippi, and the majority of the money that he has raised from day one has been raised from people – concerned citizens in Mississippi.”