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Briley shows commanding lead in fundraising

Posted: 4:21 PM, Jul 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-11 18:09:22-04
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If the Metro Nashville mayoral race were decided by money alone, Mayor David Briley would be the runaway winner.

The incumbent posted a clear advantage in fundraising in the latest campaign disclosures provided by the Davidson County Election Commission. Briley took in $443,116 in the second quarter (from April 1 to June 30). That leaves Mayor Briley with $440,194 in his war chest heading down the final stretch, a daunting total for his competitors.

Briley's list of donors is a virtual who's who in Nashville: Phil Bredesen and Andrea Conte, downtown developer Bill Miller, Nashville TV show creator Callie Khouri, Ryman chair Colin Reed, Titans President Steve Underwood, and two senior Amazon executives.

In his first quarter of reporting donations, Councilman John Cooper reported the second largest haul in donations. While his campaign took in $265,137, his campaign outspent the others, dropping $677,824 on mailers, TV ads, and other expenses. As a result, he sports the highest burn rate, the rate at which a campaign goes through cash, among the top tier candidates. He also borrowed half a million in the second quarter to meet those expenses.

Cooper's list of donors is impressive in its own right: venture capitalists like Barney Byrd and Townes Duncan, construction magnates like Joe Hobbs and Chad Ray, Christie Cookies owner Fleming Wilt, and his brother, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN).

Financial support for Rep. John Ray Clemmons picked up this quarter, primarily due to a campaign finance law that limited his fundraising efforts during the first few months of his campaign. Rep. Clemmons took in $118,445 in the 2nd quarter in contributions and added a $50,000 loan.

While the legislature was in session, Clemmons was not allowed to take donations outside of Davidson County. Since then he has taken in donations from across the U.S., including an L.A. filmmaker, a Goldman Sachs analyst in New York, and a Brooklyn-based producer of the reality series Undercover Boss. Closer to home, Rep. Clemmons enjoys support from the transit union, the local teachers' union, Warner Music exec Emilee Warner and Memphis hotelier Pace Cooper.

Dr. Carol Swain built an impressive first quarter haul on the backing of downtown honky tonks. She nearly matched that, bringing in $111,000. While that was impressive for the first quarter, however, other candidates are leaving her behind. Her expenses went up sharply this quarter, going through $178,000 in the second quarter. That leaves her with just $49,669 on hand, the smallest war chest of the top four candidates.

Adding to Swain's downtown honky tonk backers, lawyer and conservative activist Kline Preston, conservative politicians Diane Black and Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), and Dr. Meng Wang.

Now for the stats*:

Biggest 2Q Fundraising Haul: David Briley - $443,116

Smallest 2Q Haul: Carol Swain - $111,779

Biggest War Chest: David Briley - $440,194

Smallest War Chest: Carol Swain - $49,669

Most Outstanding Debt: John Cooper - $555,000

Least Debt: Briley and Swain (tie) $0

Highest 2Q Burn Rate**: Cooper - spent 2.5x total 2Q donations

Lowest 2Q Burn Rate: Briley - 95%

*rankings are among candidates who have raised more than $100K total in the campaign
**burn rates were calculated without considering loans or outstanding debt