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After investing more of his own money into his campaign than any other 2019 candidate, Madison businessman David McRae easily won the Republican nomination for state Treasurer over Sen. Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale.
McRae, who unsuccessfully vied for the nomination against current state Treasurer Lynn Fitch in 2015, donated $1.7 million to his campaign, spending nearly $1 million of it on statewide television ads.
“There’s nothing I would change about this primary campaign. We worked hard, held events in over 40 counties, and built a strong grassroots network across the state,” McRae said in a statement. “Mississippi Republicans have said they want fresh faces and fresh ideas at the State Treasury, and I plan to deliver for them.”
Clarke’s campaign focused on his four terms in the Legislature and two as head of the the Senate Appropriations Committee. And while Clarke’s experience earned him the support of some establishment Republicans, such as former Gov. Haley Barbour, his fundraising efforts, which leaned almost entirely on individual donors, failed to match McRae’s, topping out at about $350,000 by the end of July.
“I’m proud of the campaign. We ran hard, we circled the state, we met a lot of good people,” Clarke told Mississippi Today. “And I feel good about the state moving forward.”
McRae also invested his own money into his 2015 campaign, though the amount—approximately $400,000—was far short of his 2019 investment. For 2019, McRae went much bigger, producing six commercials, including one with Gov. Phil Bryant’s endorsement, and purchasing airtime in all eight Mississippi media markets.
“(Self-funding) allowed me the freedom to be out there and not be beholden to anybody. And that’s real refreshing, so I can speak my mind for how I want to improve Mississippi,” McRae told Mississippi Today. “And it’s helped other people see that I’m putting my own money in the game so I have skin in the game. So (they think I) must feel passionately about moving Mississippi in a better direction.”
McRae will face Democrat Addie Lee Green in November. Green, a former alderwoman from Bolton, ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination. So far she’s raised about $1,500.
McRae told Mississippi Today that he sees the role of treasurer as similar to his own private sector job, where he is a partner at McRae Investments. He said if elected he plans to bring transparency to the office, releasing reports that show how the investments are paying off.
“The treasurers job is the investment manager of the state – it grows the piggy bank. It doesn’t just count the money in the piggy bank … And in my job that’s what I do on a daily basis. I know how to take advantage of Wall Street and when a good deal is a good deal,” McRae said.
The state treasurer also sits on several boards, including the Public Employees Retirement System and the state License Plate Commission, and manages the college savings fund.