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Reports shine light on election chase

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Large personal loans and out-of-state contributors are among the sources fueling West Virginia's state-level election races, the opening round of campaign finance reports show.

The first batch of filings ahead of the May 8 primary also show that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has been the most successful among those running for state offices. The Democrat attracted more than $1 million for his re-election bid.

Six Democrats are seeking nomination for two Supreme Court seats. Justice Robin Davis is leading that field for funds received from donors, with $221,000. She's also loaned herself another $210,000. But fellow Democrat Tish Chafin has self-funded her campaign with $1 million. Chafin has also raised $138,000 from contributors.

That left Chafin, a former State Bar president, with a $958,000 balance as of March 30 after her campaign spent $182,000. Davis reported having $121,000.

In each political party's primary, nominations for the pair of Supreme Court seats will go to the top two vote-getters. Of the other Democrats running, Greenbrier County Circuit Judge Jim Rowe raised nearly $97,000 and had a $33,600 balance after spending nearly $74,000. Louis Palmer, a lawyer at the court, had $826 on hand after raising nearly $6,900 and spending close to that amount. Reports for the other Democrats, Circuit Judge J.D. Beane and lawyer H. John Rogers, were not immediately available.

The GOP's Supreme Court candidates are assured nominations next month. One, Jefferson Circuit Judge John Yoder, reported raising $8,405 and spending $1,817. The other, Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry, has filed to qualify for public funding through a pilot project offered as an alternative to traditional fundraising.

Among the other statewide races, Republican Patrick Morrisey has raised $150,000 for his attorney general bid. Based on donors who disclosed their addresses because each gave more than $250, four-fifths of Morrisey's total came from outside West Virginia. An Eastern Panhandle resident who belongs to a Washington, D.C., law firm, Morrisey has amassed more than $108,000 through a series of fundraising events. Three were held in Washington and a fourth was hosted in New Jersey, where Morrisey ran for Congress without success in 2000.

Morrisey cited his smaller-dollar donations Sunday to argue that a majority of the individuals who gave to his campaign are from West Virginia. Campaign finance reports do not list addresses with contributions of $250 of less. 

Running unopposed in his primary, Morrisey seeks to challenge Attorney General Darrell McGraw. The Democratic incumbent's report was not immediately available.

Tomblin, meanwhile, faces a low-profile primary opponent, Arnie Moltis, who did not raise enough funds to merit a report. Repeating a trend from last year's special election for governor, a series of 15 fundraisers yielded $628,000 of Tomblin's total for the reporting period. An early March event in Huntington accounted for nearly $98,000 of that. He ended the reporting period March 30 with an $876,342 balance after spending $168,300.

Republican Bill Maloney seeks a rematch after narrowly losing to Tomblin in 2011. Maloney attracted $303,000 during the filing period, including $162,500 from 11 fundraising events. His largest event, in his hometown of Morgantown, brought in $51,500.

Maloney spent less than $37,500 and had nearly $267,000 on hand for his primary contest against fellow Republican Ralph William Clark. Also a candidate during last year's special election, Clark reported no funds from donors during the recent filing period. He instead loaned his effort $5,000 and spent all but $263.

As they were last year, coal industry interests are well represented in Tomblin's latest report. An engineer and former owner of a drilling business, Maloney also counts the energy sector among his contributors. Several individuals and political action committees gave to both candidates during the primary phase, including executives with Swanson Industries, a chrome plating business, and the West Virginia Car Association PAC.

Tomblin and Maloney each held a pair of fundraisers in Morgantown during the filing period. Tomblin's events raised about $27,700 more than Maloney, who overall received $83,150 from fellow Morgantown residents while Tomblin attracted $75,000. Three-fourths of the contributions given to each candidate came from West Virginians.

As for other statewide races:

| Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall raised $9,550 and transferred another $5,000 from his legislative campaign fund as he runs for the GOP nomination to challenge Treasurer John Perdue. The other Republican in that primary race, Steve Connolly, received $5,475 in contributions, providing $2,000 of that himself. Hall had $11,400 to Connolly's $1,470 ahead of their primary contest. The winner faces the Democratic incumbent, who had $64,721 on hand March 30 after raising $44,570 and carrying over $50,000 in prior campaign funds.

| Of the five Democrats running for agriculture commissioner, Joe Messineo raised $6,126 and spent all but $1,500 of that, while Sally Shepherd and Bob Tabb each attracted around $2,500. Tabb had a $2,088 balance and Shepherd had $309. Reports were not immediately available for the other Democratic primary contenders, Steve Miller and Sen. Walt Helmick.

| Secretary of State Natalie Tennant had $7,275 on hand. Tennant is unopposed in the Democratic primary, while Republican Brian Savilla is similarly assured nomination in the GOP primary. A freshman in the House of Delegates, Savilla had a $1,124 balance.

| With no Democratic primary opponent, Auditor Glen Gainer reported a $30,513 balance. He will face Republican Larry Faircloth, who raised $1,185 but spent all but $34, in the November general election.


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