JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Joe Grandy and Richard Venable retained their jobs as mayor of Washington and Sullivan counties, but it didn’t come without hard-fought elections that saw each incumbent spend more than $100,000 total.
After spending more than $60,000 on a primary that he won narrowly over County Commissioner Robbie Tester, Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy spent more than $49,000 more in the general election campaign before squeaking by independent James Reeves by 141 votes on Aug. 4.
Venable had the tightest race of all, just getting by Sullivan County Commissioner Angie Stanley in the May primary by a 121-vote margin. He spent just more than $50,000 during the primary race to Stanley’s $96,000-plus before spending another $52,000-plus during the general election campaign, which he won handily over Independent Val George.
Both men spent significantly more than they did in their successful 2018 campaigns. Grandy outspent Reeves by nearly a 2-1 margin while Venable spent about seven times as much as George.
‘Cost per vote’ way up from 2018
From April 24 through July 28 — for the most part following his primary win over Tester — Grandy reported spending just over $49,000. He still had almost $25,000 on hand July 28, a week before the election.
The expenditures were roughly double Reeves’s total expenses during the same period of just over $25,500.
That worked out to a “cost per vote” of about $9.02 for Grandy, compared to a cost per vote of $4.81 for Reeves.
With its higher numbers and lower spending, the 2018 contest between the two produced a much lower cost per vote than this year’s.
Grandy spent a total of $19,703 in the 2018 general election, which worked out to a cost of $2.12 per vote — less than one-fourth the total of 2022’s election.
Reeves, who spent just over half his 2022 total in 2018, had an average cost per vote in 2018 of $1.57 per vote. He spent $13,539 that year and garnered 8,649 votes.
Overall, Grandy spent about $113,000 in his successful pursuit of a second term, laying out almost $64,000 earlier in the year prior to the primary, when he defeated Tester with 51.8% of 12,391 votes cast.
That’s almost $30,000 more total than Grandy’s spending in the 2018 races. He spent just a bit more in the primary that year, $64,221, but only about 40% as much in the general election.
In Sullivan County, Venable spent $8.11 per vote in the primary against Stanley before spending an additional $10.19 when he cruised to an easy general election win over George. Turnout in Sullivan County’s general election was less than 9%.
Four years earlier, Venable spent just $13,799 while winning 70% of the vote in a general election against independent Gerald Sensabaugh. Venable’s cost per vote in that race, in which he won 17,316 votes, was just 80 cents.
Venable spent about $102,000 total over both campaigns this year. Stanley spent the most per vote of any candidate in either the primary or general elections — $15.96.
Stanley, like Tester a county commissioner, got 49.5% of the vote to Venable’s 50.5% as 12,223 votes were cast in that primary.
Venable had a cost per vote of $8.11 in the primary and $10.19 in the general election. George spent just $7,235 on his general election effort,