Spending hints at re-election challenge for Davis

Hank Hayes • Oct 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

U.S. Rep. David Davis didn’t acknowledge it, but his re-election campaign spending suggests he may be preparing for a primary or general election challenge in 2008.

The first- term Johnson City Republican listed net operating expenditures of more than $266,000 for the current election cycle in his quarterly campaign finance disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The average amount of money spent by prospective 2008 House candidates is about $137,500, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., campaign finance tracking organization.

Davis has received more than $300,000 in contributions during the election cycle, and his campaign reported having about $110,000 cash on hand at the close of September.

“I’ve been very pleased with the money I’ve been able to raise,” Davis said. “That’s one of the things you have to do as a candidate. I do plan on running a strong race next year. Part of the money I spent is actually going back and paying off some campaign debt from last time. I like to keep my promises. I made commitments that I will pay back my debts.

“Right now I’m pleased where I’m at. I’m pleased with the type of response I’ve received from throughout the district.”

When asked if he is preparing for opposition next year, Davis responded that is up to others.

Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe, a Republican who finished fourth in the 2006 1st Congressional District Republican primary, has been contemplating challenging Davis in next year’s GOP primary. Roe still has an FEC account with less than $2,200 in it. His term on the Johnson City Commission does not expire until 2011.

A Democrat hasn’t held the district’s seat in more than 100 years.

“If others want to run, they can look and see that I have the ability to raise money,” Davis said. “I’m a hard worker. The last person who won a primary election and beat an incumbent was 1974 in Tennessee. That was during Watergate and in Memphis. I think history is on my side. I think we’ll be just fine.”

During the reporting period ending in September, those who gave FEC maximum $2,300 per election contributions to Davis included former King Pharmaceuticals Chairman John Gregory, and his wife, Joan; James Gregory of Bristol-based S&J Investments; and Jim Powell of Powell Construction.

Davis’ campaign gifts of $1,000 or more coming from political action committees included contributions from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; American Podiatric Medical Association; BAE Systems PAC; Eastman PAC; First Horizon Federal PAC; International Association of Firefighters; K-VA-T Food Stores; National Association of Broadcasters; Unaka Company PAC; Wal-Mart Stores PAC; and U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC.

Noteworthy expenses listed during the reporting period included more than $7,500 going to The Strategy Group for Media, a political ad production company with offices in Ohio and Texas; $2,500 disbursed to Oakland, Fla.-based Bellwether Consulting Group for financial consulting; more than $6,000 going to Washington, D.C.-based Catalyst Group, also for financial consulting; and about $8,000 going to Press Secretary Timothy Hill as a bonus for working on Davis’ 2006 campaign.

FEC documents indicate Davis has not paid himself back for $160,000 in personal loans that he gave to his campaign in 2006.

“I’m not going to be concerned about what I owe myself until a later date,” Davis said. “I wanted to pay off others who I owed.”

For more about Davis, go to www.daviddavis.house.gov.

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