/In Republican treasurer’s race, Sen Buck Clarke’s experience faces off against David McRae’s bucks

In Republican treasurer’s race, Sen Buck Clarke’s experience faces off against David McRae’s bucks

Clarke said, “If you send one more Buck to treasurer’s offices, I’ll take care of the rest,” Clarke continued. “And you know, people have mentioned my ad to them everywhere I’ve been.” It’s a good ad. Clarke raised just over $350,000 through July and this is the only budget Clarke has ever made. His opponent, Madison businessman David McRae has produced six ads. One is funny and one is heartfelt. The other one is with his daughter Katherine. One that outlines his plans for the state and the most memorable is the one in which Gov. Phil Bryant endorses him. Clarke seems like the most likely establishment choice at first glance. Clarke is a well-liked conservative who serves as the Senate’s top budget author. “Buck’s a little better than we’re used” to seeing in candidates for state treasurer. Hinds County Republican Party Chair Pete Perry said that Buck is a popular choice. McRae’s great-grandfather started the department store chain. But money is often more important than experience in down-ballot races such as this. McRae had contributed $1.7 million to his campaign as of July. Perry stated that even half a million dollars could win a down-ticket election because you don’t have to run on your policies the same way as you do with governor and lieutenant governor. McRae is likely to be recognized by many Mississippians. McRae has flooded all eight media markets of the state and spent just over $1 million on airtime. Clarke, on the other hand, has spent approximately $200,000 on television airtime. Name recognition is a key factor in establishing credibility for candidates. However, having money can also be a motivator for candidates to “lend” money to campaigns, even though they intend to never spend it. Dave Dennis, a Gulfport businessman, was running to challenge the then-Lt. Governor in 2011. Bryant, who was running for Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2011, bolstered his war chest by borrowing $450,000. This amount he later paid back. Brad White, former chairman of the state Republican Party and chief of staff to U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde Smith, said that people like to support winners. “And a well-funded campaign with enough resources to wage a vigorous fight clearly has an advantage over the campaign without sufficient resources,” White said. However, White pointed out that individual contributions remain the gold standard for campaign funding. Clarke raised $350,000 almost entirely from individual contributions. That’s great news. McRae has received about half of that amount from individual donations. “Ideally, a candidate would like to be able raise the money from donors as it’s a sign of support. White stated that it means people have bought into the campaign and their message. “But money can be spent, regardless of whether it is donated by others or self-financed. It can have the same positive effect if it’s used wisely.” Both candidates have taken comfort in the campaign finance reports. Clarke, who plays the experienced, friendly conservative on the stump, highlights his time as the Senate Appropriations Chair. “I feel that I have learned a lot over the past 16 years, especially the last eight years. Why let it go to waste?” Mississippi needs your help. (Chairing Appropriations), helps you understand how it all works. Clarke explained to Mississippi Today that you can see the entire state functioning. McRae on the other hand, emphasizes his success in managing his family’s investments. He vows transparency to the treasurer’s office. However, McRae is hesitant to quantify this success. McRae stated that McRae could not/I have four partners, and it’s up them to decide. Mississippi Today was denied this statement. “But our success speaks louder than any words. We have had positive growth for 15 years. McRae is excited about the job. He is running for the Republican nomination for the second time. His wife, McRae, said that they began planning for their 2019 run less than one month after his 2015 loss to Lynn Fitch (current state Treasurer). He isn’t ignorant about the benefits self-funding has brought to his candidacy and the role it played for Bryant’s endorsement. “I’m a self-financer. McRae stated that this appeals to the governor. There are two principles behind this. I won’t ask anyone to invest in my business if they haven’t personally invested in me — that’s how it works for me. Bryant is not dependent on anyone.” Bryant has only weighed in on two other Republican primaries. He endorsed Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) for secretary of state. Tate Reeves was his lieutenant governor. This was before former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. entered the race and made it competitive. According to Bryant’s spokesperson, he will not endorse any candidate for attorney general until after the highly contested primary. The endorsement was a tacit acknowledgment of Bryant’s weight, coming just one week after McRae announced his support. Haley Barbour supported Clarke and praised his “serious experiences and accomplishments”. In an editorial for Clarion-Ledger, McRae said that McRae has “a great deal family money” and was “advertising heavily to win political office.” This is not the first candidate to self-finance a race for state office. Sam Britton, the Southern District Public Service Commissioner, is running to be secretary of state. He has more than $700,000. This compares to the $450,000 Watson raised. Jay Hughes, a Democratic representative from Oxford, is unopposed to run for the Democratic nomination as lieutenant governor. He has nearly $1 million in his own funding. It’s the race where the biggest differences are in terms of experience and funding. There is precedent that an investment in this race can pay off. Lynn Fitch, the current state Treasurer, financed her 2011 campaign largely with $250,000 from her family. Fitch is relying on strong state name recognition to win her bid for Attorney General. This may be an example of why the lowest office on the ballot should be considered worth the investment. Reeves was her predecessor and the current lieutenant governor. He is a prolific fundraiser. Perry stated that offices like auditor and treasurer are stepping stones to higher offices. You want supporters and money. If I had to choose, money would be my choice.