One candidate for the Senate 42 seat vacated by Robert Ford has raised more than all his five primary opponents combined.
Tuesday: The final Democratic Senate District 42 candidate forum, 7 p.m., Trident Technical College, 9000 Rivers Ave.
Aug. 13: The Democratic primary is held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Aug. 27: The Democratic primary runoff will be held, if needed.
Oct. 1: The special election for District 42 is held.
Charleston lawyer Marlon Kimpson has raised $79,476, with about $10,800 of that coming from his own pocket, according to state campaign disclosure forms.
His challengers — Charleston lawyer Emmanuel Ferguson, retired jobs counselor Herbert Fielding, North Charleston businesswoman Margaret Rush, contractor Bob Thompson, and former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington have raised about $55,523.
Kimpson said his solid showing is proof his message is getting through, but his opponents expressed concern about the total and about how much — more than $30,000 — came from outside the Lowcountry.
“He’s trying to buy it. That’s what this is about,” Rush said of Kimpson. “This district should not be for sale.”
Fielding, whose father was senator two decades ago, said Kimpson’s fundraising does appear “to be an inordinate amount of money,” adding, “I hope we can maintain the common man’s interest with that kind of donor base.”
Kimpson said when people run for office, some of their supporter volunteer, while others donate. “I view our fundraising effort as an indication that people see the momentum in our campaign, and they agree with our message,” he said. “I think it’s a strong indication of support for my candidacy.”
Ferguson also criticized the way Kimpson has spent his money, such as the $6,000 paid for consulting help to state Rep. Wendell Gilliard. Ferguson has said state ethics laws should be changed to prevent sitting lawmakers from endorsing someone while working for pay for them.
“I want to introduce a state law that prohibits an elected official from being a paid consultant and having the ability to publicly endorse a candidate,” he said. “I just don’t think it serves the people well when an elected official is getting money for their endorsement.”
Gilliard’s payments were made for field work, grass-roots organizing, door knocking and sign placement, according to Kimpson’s disclosure form.
Kimpson disagreed with Ferguson. “The notion that he (Gilliard) is supporting me because he’s received money from me is totally without merit,” Kimpson said. “I cannot ask Wendell Gilliard to spend a whole day hanging up signs and talking to members of the community and knocking on doors without some consideration. That’s a part of his business.”
Washington raised the second-largest amount — $24,700 — though that includes a $12,000 loan and $7,400 of his own money.
Rush has raised $11,740 and reported no personal funds, though her donations included a $500 contribution from her consulting business on Rivers Avenue.
Fielding had raised $7,465, including $2,614 of his own money. Ferguson reported raising $11,413, including a loan of about $6,500.
Thompson reported raising the least amount, $205, including $80 of his own money. He reported spending $90 of that on gas.
The fundraising isn’t the only source of contention. At least two candidates, Fielding and Rush, hastily arranged legal residences in Senate District 42 after Ford resigned and a special election was called.
Fielding said he has lived in the district for years and is working with a real estate agent to buy a home there, “but I won’t do anything until the primary is over.” Rush, who has lived in Goose Creek, said she has talked with North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey about where to move. “I will be the resident senator from North Charleston,” she said. “I’m going to represent the entire district.”
Kimpson said the residency issue is a legitimate question for voters. “At least I’ve lived in District 42 for more than a decade,” he said. “Some candidates just moved to the district.”
Washington, who has lived in the district for 30 years, agreed. “You wouldn’t want someone who lives in Berkeley County to occupy a Charleston County seat,” he said. “That should pose a real concern for voters in the district.”
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.