Congressional race: Gapp, Clark, Harshbarger plow more of own funds into campaign coffers

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Three First Congressional District candidates have now put more than $3 million of their own money combined into the Republican primary race.

WJHL – Three largely self-funding GOP candidates in Tennessee’s First Congressional District primary continue pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race, Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports show.

Since the July 17 reporting cutoff, Dr. Josh Gapp ($250,000), John Clark ($241,000) and Diana Harshbarger ($145,365) have provided personal funds to their campaigns totaling just less than $650,000 combined. The figures come from required 48-hour notices of funds received.

The three are among 13 Republican candidates in a crowded, competitive primary crowded with competitors likely inspired by six-term Congressman Phil Roe’s retirement announcement in early January.

The last such race came in 2006, when four candidates finished within several thousand votes of one another after Bill Jenkins announced he would retire after five terms.

More than 60 percent of the $5.6 million put into the Tennessee First Congressional GOP campaign has come from candidates’ own funds.

The latest self-funding pushes the total from candidates’ own wallets in the crowded race to $3.4 million — more than 60 percent of the total $5.6 million put into the campaign.

In contrast, individual donations to all candidates total $1.2 million and political action committee (PAC) money totals $972,685.

As of Thursday afternoon, six candidates had filed at least one “Schedule 6” report since July 20. Those reports include any type of receipts that go directly into a candidate’s campaign, including individual and political action committee (PAC) donations.

All told, candidates reported $713,565 in contributions and self-funding from July 18 through July 29. That boosted campaign receipts in the primary race to $4.7 million so far. The $5.6 million total includes $871,785 the Club for Growth PAC has put behind State Rep. Timothy Hill’s campaign.

Harshbarger, a Kingsport pharmacist who’s never held elected office, maintains a commanding fundraising lead overall at $1,627,412. Gapp, a Knoxville pathologist who likewise is a political newcomer, is second at $1,108,970.

Hill gained the endorsement of the economically conservative Club for Growth early this month. Factor in its spending on pro-Hill ads and attack ads against several candidates and Hill’s monetary support totals $1,124,923.

While they lag in total funding, Rusty Crowe and Steve Darden are outpacing competitors in funds raised from individual donors.

Clark’s fundraising total now stands at $893,175. The former Kingsport mayor has now put $733,725 of his own funds into the race.

While they lead in individual donations, State Senator Rusty Crowe and former Johnson City mayor Steve Darden lag in overall funding. $354,254 of Crowe’s $402,754 in total funding has come from individual donations. Darden’s figures are similar, with $293,620 out of $352,320 coming from individuals.

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