Groups hoping to unseat the Republican majority on the Wake County school board appear to have a substantial early fundraising advantage.
As noted in today's article, the five Democratic school board candidates and the Wake Citizens for Good Government PAC have reported raising more than $85,000 so far. That doesn't include the donations that the Wake County Democratic Party plans to raise as part of its coordinated campaign.
The biggest donors so far are John and Ann Campbell, who've given at least $40,000. That's $32,000 to four school board candidates and $8,000 to Wake Citizens for Good Government.
The number from the Campbells will likely rise to more than $50,000 because it doesn't include any contributions they may give to Susan Evans or them being one of the sponsors at an upcoming Wake Democratic fundraiser.
In addition to the Campbells, other sponsors of the Aug. 17 "A Night of Southern Hospitality" fundraiser include Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and his wife, school board member Anne McLaurin; Wake Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul; pollster Dean Debnam; former school board member Susan Parry; state Rep. Deborah Ross and Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman.
One of the special guests at the Aug. 17 fundraiser is Duke University Professor Tim Tyson, who has played an active role with the state NAACP's fight against the school board majority.
Wake County Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Bryant had some harsh words to say about the Campbells, who run the the Campbell Alliance, which does management consulting for pharmaceuticals and biotech. The North Raleigh couple had a child who graduated from Enloe High and another at Ligon Middle.
“My big concern is that poor Art Pope has just been beaten up,” said Bryant, referring to former state Rep. Art Pope, a long-time GOP donor who gave $15,015 to the Wake GOP for the 2009 campaign. “You can’t, or you shouldn’t, buy an election. It appears that Mr. and Mrs. Campbell are busy doing that.”
Efforts to reach the Campbells were unsuccessful.
But Paul fired back at Bryant's charges.
“The donors to the candidates are business and civic leaders who are concerned about the future of Wake County” Paul said. “Some are parents of children in our school system, others are simply citizens who are concerned about the actions of the current school board majority.”
Psul also referred back to the GOP donations in the 2009 school board campaign to defend this year's donors.
"We wish that folks had been equally concerned two years ago when special interest money flooded our county," Paul said. "It was obviously a wake up call to everyone who cares about the future of our county and these donor filings show that concerned citizens are standing up to the special interests."
GOP school board chairman Ron Margiotta, who will likely be a prime target of these Democratic efforts, said he wasn't worried about the contributions.
“It’s a few people providing most of the money to their campaigns,” Margiotta said. “How can they represent the will of the community?”