Four mayoral candidates spent $1.76M combined over summer

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 29, 2023 7:07 PM CT | Published: September 29, 2023 3:35 PM CT

Four candidates for Memphis mayor spent six-figure sums on their campaigns throughout the summer.

Those candidates spent a combined $1.76 million from July 1 to Sept. 25, according to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday, Sept. 28. They are referred to as “pre-general” reports because they’re filed before the Oct. 5 election day.

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The four biggest spenders were:

  • Paul Young, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission, who spent $692,073;
  • Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. who spent $592,443;
  • Van Turner, a former county commissioner, who spent $297,329;
  • And businessman and philanthropist J.W. Gibson who spent $173,241.

Television ads for all four have dominated the airwaves and social media since before early voting began Sept. 15. The ads have increased since then and changed in their emphasis to include attack ads against rival candidates.

None of the other 13 mayoral candidates on the ballot were in six figures. Four reported raising no money for the period. Four other candidates had not filed finance reports by Friday afternoon, Sept. 29, and may not have to given their late entry into the race.

For the same period, the top four spenders raised $754,864, according to the reports.

Young raised the most with $298,571 followed by Bonner with $215,238 and Turner with $198,537. Gibson raised $42,518.

The pre-general finance report usually reflects more money spent than raised for the campaigns as election day nears. Campaigns try to bank some money raised in earlier periods for the push into early voting.

The third critical dollar figure in the reports is how much the candidates have in their campaign accounts for the gap between the end of early voting and election day.

The focus shifts from a two-week period of balloting at 18 sites to a single, 12-hour day of voting at precincts across the city.

Here too, Young led the pack with $203,967 in his account as of Sept. 25.

Bonner had a closing balance for the period of $157,243 followed by Turner at $113,645.

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Memphis-Shelby County Schools board member Michelle McKissack was fourth with a closing balance of $22,523.

Former Mayor Willie Herenton had $18,369 for the drive to election day after starting the quarter with no money and raising $19,313 this summer. He spent $943.85 during the most recent period.

However, in the previous period that covered April 1 through June 30, Herenton reported he had a closing balance of $16,225.

Herenton’s campaign did not immediately respond when asked to explain his reports' discrepancies.

Paul Young tops Q2 fundraising in Memphis mayor’s race

State House Democratic leader Karen Camper closed the most recent period with $15,851 after raising $16,689 – added to her opening balance of $33,074.

Camper spent $33,912 in a quarter that included her return to the state capitol in August for a special session of the Tennessee Legislature.

Camper also reported loaning her campaign $4,500 on Sept. 25.


2023 Memphis Mayor's race campaign finance

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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