By Darrell Todd Maurina
Matt Chandler has raised nearly $4,200 more than incumbent Brett Carter in the campaign for district attorney, according to campaign finance records filed Thursday evening.
State law requires candidates to file campaign finance reports on May 10 and May 27.
Through Tuesday, Chandler had raised $29,007.84 and spent $25,696.03; Carter had raised $24,833.85 and spent $24,549.59.
Chandler’s fund-raising lead started out as nearly two-to-one, showing that he raised $22,870 to Carter’s $14,355 by May 10. Carter narrowed the difference by the second report, much of it through personal contributions and contributions from family members.
“We realized (Chandler’s supporters) were spending a lot of money on this campaign, and we were not able to match it, obviously,” Carter said. “I can’t see asking other people for money if I am not willing to contribute.”
Carter said he’s contributed close to $4,450 to his own campaign. His parents gave $1,300, his brother $600, his wife’s parents $500, and his sister-in-law gave $540.
Those numbers include some contributions made during the last week of the campaign which won’t appear on official reports until July 1. Including late contributions, Carter said his campaign raised about $26,393 and spent $26,249 by Friday afternoon. More than a quarter of the contributions came from relatives, he said.
Chandler’s campaign raised $29,957.84 by Saturday afternoon, according to his treasurer’s unofficial calculations.
Carter said even with late contributions he is his own largest contributor, followed by Clovis attorney Dan Lindsey at $2,150. Official campaign reports that don’t reflect late contributions indicate that Clovis car dealer Gary Hamilton is the third-largest donor to the Carter campaign, giving $2,100 as of Tuesday. Other donors giving $1,000 or more to the Carter campaign were pharmacy owner James Herman at $1,100 and Portales National Bank president David Stone with $1,000.
Hamilton is also the largest single donor to Chandler’s campaign, giving $2,250 as of Tuesday.
Hamilton couldn’t be reached for comment Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and both candidates said they weren’t sure how to understand his contribution.
“I talked to Hamilton Ford; I imagine a lot of these people in my opponent’s campaign did, too,” Carter said. “A lot of people when you ask them for money, they know you and don’t want to turn you down. Just because they give you money doesn’t mean they are going to vote for you. That’s something that gets determined at the voting booth.”
Chandler said he didn’t know why Hamilton contributed so generously to both campaigns.
“Gary Hamilton is perhaps just very generous,” Chandler said. “I really don’t know why, it’s their prerogative and I’d rather not speculate.”
Two dairy operations or their owners made contributions to both candidates, but the candidates said the explanation was that different members of the dairy families supported different candidates.
Clovis attorney Michael Garrett, his wife Clare, and dairy owner Art Schaap each gave $1,000 to Chandler; no other donor gave more than $1,000. Chandler contributed $500 to his own campaign and his parents donated $625.
Both candidates report numerous contributions from local attorneys and Chandler reported a number of contributions from out-of-state attorneys, many of whom he said were friends from college or law school. Most of Chandler’s out-of-state contributions were generally under $250.
Carter’s contributors included three of the eight attorneys in his office: $350 from Bryan McKay, $200 from Brent Capshaw, and $100 from Fred Van Soelen.
Even though he was fired by Carter for deciding to run against him, Chandler said he had no intention of removing those in the district attorney’s office who supported Carter’s campaign if he wins.
“They have the constitutional right to support who they may and I have absolutely no problem with that,” Chandler said.
Chandler said he was surprised to see how much money he was able to raise.
“It was much more than I expected,” Chandler said. “I was unsure what it would take to run a campaign and what it would take to raise the money, but I had a third of that money raised a week and a half after I was fired.”