With the primary election only three weeks away, contributions and endorsements are piling up for some Jackson County candidates. But for others, not so much.
County Executive Frank White not surprisingly has raised the most cash of anyone running for county office this election cycle, according to campaign finance reports filed as of Monday’s deadline with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
White far outpaced his only active opponent in the Democratic race, Matthew Merryman, raising $59,605 compared with Merryman’s $8,485, while racking up endorsements from several labor unions. A third candidate, Jeremy Raines, did not file a report and does not appear to be actively campaigning.
The winner will go on to face the nominee of the Green Party in November. Neither Green Party candidate filed campaign finance reports. No Republican is running.
Far more competitive is the race for sheriff, as are the contests for four of the nine legislative seats on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Among the three Democrats running for sheriff, challenger Mike Rogers was slightly ahead of interim Sheriff Darryl Forte in fund-raising — $9,755 compared to $9,235.
Rogers, a captain with the sheriff’s office, has the support of union locals representing Jackson County deputies, as well as police officers in Independence and Kansas City, where Forte was the police chief until March 2017.
Forte, meanwhile, has endorsements from a number of local political leaders, including White and the mayors of Kansas City, Independence, Blue Springs, Raytown and Grandview.
Retired Kansas City police Sgt. Ramona Arroyo is also running and reported raising $4,400 so far.
The winner will go on to face the winner of the Republican primary. David Bernal had raised $1,753 and spent $100 as of the reporting deadline. Randy Poletis had not filed a report.
Whoever wins November’s general election will serve the remaining two years of former Sheriff Mike Sharp’s term. Sharp resigned amid scandal in April, after which White appointed Forte to serve until voters could choose a replacement.
Of the four most competitive races for the legislature, all between Democrats, only one features an incumbent. Democrat Crystal Williams is seeking a third four-year term in the 2nd District At-large seat. She has raised twice as much cash as challenger John Burnett — $38,439 versus $19,231 — and has strong union support.
Burnett, formerly a member of both the Jackson County and Missouri state legislatures, got his largest contribution from a political action committee controlled by state tax commissioner and former state Sen. Victor Callahan.
In the 1st District At-Large race, Jalen Anderson raised $43,343, primarily from dozens of small donors. His opponent, Sherwood Smith, did not file a July report. In April, the last reporting period, Smith’s campaign account consisted of a $50,000 loan to himself.
Among in-district races, Sandra Jiles and Arimeta DuPree have raised $15,676 and $12,962, respectively, while former county legislator Ron Finley trailed with $9,575 but has the support of incumbent Alfred Jordan.
Jordan chose not to run for a second, four-year term.
In the 3rd District, Charlie Franklin led in donations, with $58,475, from individual supporters, including Dennis Waits, who is stepping down from the seat he’s held for more than three decades. Franklin also spent far and away the most of any candidate for county office: $38,892.
He reported having $21,083 still on hand, which is $18 more than Paul Wrabec raised so far this election. Wrabec, chairman of the county Democratic Party, got his biggest donations from labor unions and Callahan’s 11th Senatorial Leadership Committee. Meanwhile Lois McDonald trailed with $2,337 raised, of which she had spent only $12.
Democratic incumbents Dan Tarwater (4th District) and Tony Miller (3rd District At-Large) far outpaced their primary challengers. There are no primary challenges in the 1st, 5th and 6th districts.