LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - It may be just a county sheriff's race, but there's already thousands worth of contributions being poured into the Lexington County sheriff's race, according to the election reports.
Campaign disclosure forms filed with the South Carolina Ethics Commission indicate Lexington Assistant Police Chief Jay Koon is leading the way in the money race with $114,382 worth of contributions since the race began. He took in more than $84,000 just in six weeks starting a few days into January. Almost $17,000 or 20 percent of that money is in donations of $100 or less. However, Koon also got the maximum individual contribution of $1,000 from 27 donors, with some of those identified as businesses.
Koon is also reaping the benefits of having two high-profile endorsements from Gov. Nikki Haley, who has contributed $250 to his campaign and current interim Sheriff Lewis McCarty, who contributed $200.
Koon's spending is also an indicator that he's a serious contender. About $28,000 in expenditures are listed for campaign consultant services with most of that money going to Starboard Communications in Lexington. Starboard is an established firm headed by political operative Walter Whetsell, which has also worked on state and national GOP campaigns. Koon also has the money to start running TV ads.
The new disclosure reports now show a much tighter race for the No. 2 slot. Of the three remaining candidates, Richland County deputy Justin Britt raised the most money in that six-week period, edging out West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall by more than $5,000. Britt has raised $20,825, while Tyndall has $15,225 in campaign contributions. Both of the candidates are working with political or marketing companies, but spending on a much smaller scale compared to Koon.
Fourth candidate Ed Felix is a distant fourth in financing. His report shows more than 80 percent of his funding came out of his own pocket.
A primary election will be held March 3. All four candidates are Republicans, so there will be no Democratic primary. A primary run-off election will be March 17, if needed. A special general election will take place April 21.