Tennessee GOP gov race: Candidates chip in $33M, spend $33M

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Four leading Republican candidates have spent a record-shattering $33.5 million so far in the bruising primary for governor in Tennessee, with each unleashing about $33 million combined from their own bank accounts.

The crowded GOP field to succeed Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has flooded TV airwaves since January with messages that have evolved from pleasant personal profiles, to tough talk on immigration, to recent, ongoing bitter attacks.

The two leading Democrats, meanwhile, have joined in by contributing $1.5 million in personal money combined, and have spent $3.7 million.

The title of costliest governor's race had been held by the $27 million contest in 2010, when Haslam clinched his first term. Haslam spent $16.7 million, including $3.5 million of his own money.

That total has already been topped with months to go before November.

Since the current election cycle began, campaign finance reports through June show ex-state economic development commissioner and businessman Randy Boyd has added $14.2 million of his own money, including $8.2 million since April, and has spent $15.7 million.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black has added $10.3 million in personal funds and spent $10.3 million. Businessman Bill Lee has contributed $5.3 million, spending $4.7 million. House Speaker Beth Harwell has loaned $3.1 million, spending $2.6 million.

While tapping into $33 million in personal money, the four Republicans have raised $12.9 million combined: Boyd, with $4.8 million; Lee, with $3.1 million; Black, with $2.7 million; and Harwell, with $2.3 million, including about $894,600 transferred from her other political committees.

They all remain flush with cash ahead of the Aug. 2 primary election — Lee has the most, with $3.6 million remaining, and Black has the least, with $2.6 million cash on hand.

In the Democratic contest, ex-Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has contributed $743,000 of his own cash and spent $3.1 million, with $1.4 million left on hand. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh has loaned his campaign $766,000, spent $624,700 and ended with $467,300 remaining.

Outside of the money they personally contributed, Dean has raised $3.8 million and Fitzhugh has brought in $624,700.

Here's a look at the candidates' latest activity fundraising from April through June, according to state campaign finance reports:

— Black: $620,800 raised; $6.25 million in personal money added; $6.3 million spent; $2.6 million cash on hand

— Boyd: $662,900 raised; $8.2 million in personal money added; $8.5 million spent; $3.3 million cash on hand

— Lee: $438,300 raised; no additional personal money added; $3.2 million spent; $3.6 million cash on hand

— Harwell: $216,900 raised; no additional personal money added; $2.3 million spent; $2.8 million cash on hand

— Dean: $813,900 raised; $500,000 personal money added; $1.9 million spent; $1.4 million cash on hand

— Fitzhugh: $75,400 raised; $200,000 personal money added; $451,300 spent; $467,300 cash on hand