Expensive primary: John Clark highest in funding per vote, winner Harshbarger second

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This chart shows the amount each Tennessee First Congressional district GOP candidate’s campaign had per vote received in the primary – excluding outside PAC money for Timothy Hill.

Including outside PACs, $67.33 in funding per vote as $5.9 million pours into contest

WJHL – When the dust had settled last night and Diana Harshbarger had emerged victorious in Tennessee’s First Congressional District Republican primary, her campaign coffers had received $90 for each of the 18,069 votes she received.

And hers wasn’t even the highest-funded campaign per vote. That distinction belonged to former Kingsport mayor and sixth-place finisher John Clark, whose campaign had $106 in funding for each of his 8,824 votes.

Among the top seven vote getters, the average funding per each of the 87,513 votes totaled $67.33. A solid majority of that amount — $39.61 — came from candidates own pockets. Individual donations accounted for another $14.08 per vote, and political action committee money — most of it from outside PACs — came in at $13.64 per vote.

Much of that PAC spending came in the form of an attempt to help Timothy Hill, the primary’s runner-up. The Tennessee Third House District Representative, who gave up that seat to run, benefited to the tune of $63.44 in PAC money per each of his 15,724 votes.

For all intents and purposes that put Hill fourth in spending per vote at about $75 — behind Clark, Harshbarger and fourth-place Josh Gapp.

Self funding was almost all the domain of Harshbarger, Gapp and Clark. Harshbarger and Gapp, both political newcomers, poured $2.5 million between them into the race.

Based on the results, though, it was Clark spending the heaviest in personal funds per vote at $88.25. The other two were close behind with Gapp at $82.40 and Harshbarger at $80.87. No other candidate was anywhere close in self funding per vote.

Third-place Rusty Crowe, the long-time state senator from the Third Senate District, and former Johnson City mayor Steve Darden, who finished fifth, got their votes for relative bargains. Both received the bulk of their funding from individual campaign donations.

eCrowe finished just behind Hill but received his 15,170 vopotes for less than half the funds — $28.50 each. Darden’s 11,642 votes came at $31.80 per dollar available to his campaign. State Representative David Hawk of Greeneville, who did not give up his seat to 6. run, finished at distant seventh but funded his campaign at a rate of just $11.36 per vote.

Votes came cheaper in last hotly contested primary

The last wide open primary in this heavily Republican district came when Bill Jenkins retired in 2006. Winner David Davis spent $253,407 on the race — $15.28 per vote.

Runner up Richard Venable spent $32.59 per vote and fourth-place Phil Roe, who would go on to defeat Davis two years later, spent $31.98 per vote.

Self-funded Greeneville businessman Richard Roberts, who was third, spent a whopping $168.70 per each of the 13,580 he collected. Nearly all of it came from his own funds.

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