Mississippi money will likely decide which Republican wins the June 5 primary in the third congressional race, a Mississippi Today analysis of campaign-finance documents shows.
Of the six Republican candidates vying to fill the seat retiring U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper vacated, just $148,550, or 13 percent, of the $1.1 million raised is from out of state.
Mississippi Today analyzed contributions listed on two campaign finance filings: the April quarterly filing for donations between January 1 and March 30, and the pre-primary filing for contributions between April 1 and May 16.
Personal loans that candidates gave their own campaigns were not included in the figures.
Here’s the breakdown of how much out-of-state money each candidate has raised:
Morgan Dunn: $45,240 total raised; $3,950, or 9 percent, coming from out of state.
Sally Doty: $94,958 total raised; $13,000, or 14 percent, coming from out of state.
Michael Guest: $396,407 total raised; $17,800, or 4 percent, coming from out of state.
Whit Hughes: $430,577 total raised; $14,800, or 3 percent, coming from out of state.
Perry Parker: $150,412 total raised; $99,000, or 66 percent, coming from out of state.
Katherine Tate: No campaign finance information filed with the Federal Election Commission.
A vast majority of that out-of-state money – $99,000 of the $148,500 total – is from a single candidate, businessman Perry Parker. Parker, an international businessman who recently moved back home to Mississippi, has touted his out-of-state connections on the campaign trail.
Few political action committees (PACs) have written the candidates big checks. Instead, Mississippi individuals made up the majority of the contributions on the two main filings.
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The last time an incumbent congressman in Mississippi decided not to run was in 2008, when Rep. Chip Pickering opted to enter the private sector.
As Washington’s big lobbies and interest groups curry favor with incumbent congressmen, out-of-state contributions come more regularly for incumbent lawmakers.
With four incumbent congressmen running for office in 2016, that notion was evident, according to campaign-finance data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Rep. Gregg Harper raised 30 percent of his $425,000 total from out of state. Rep. Trent Kelly raised 32 percent of his $561,570 from out of state. Rep. Steven Palazzo raised 43 percent of his $225,000 total from out of state.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the state’s only Democrat in Washington, raised 77 percent of his $144,000 from out of state.
A decade ago, Harper and former state Sen. Charlie Ross were the top two vote getters in the Republican primary to replace Pickering, squaring off in a runoff for the nomination. An analysis of 2008 finance reports to the same point that year show that Harper and Ross raised more out-of-state money than the average of the six candidates this year.
In 2008, Harper raised $208,465 to this point in the primary, with $29,750, or 14 percent, coming from out-of-state donors. Ross raised $461,919 to this point in the primary, with $171,765, or 37 percent, coming from out-of-state donors.
“From the candidate’s perspective, fundraising is one of the most difficult tasks,” Ross told Mississippi Today. “You really just appreciate any contributions that anyone makes.”
“But I guess the bottom line is that every single race is different, and every candidate has a different approach,” Ross continued.