Duvall Geere Gunnels Middleton

Candidates for the at-large seat on Columbia City Council include, from left, Howard Duvall, Amadeo Geere, Dylan Gunnels and Sara Middleton. The municipal election is on Nov. 5. 

Columbia City Councilman Howard Duvall and one of his challengers, Sara Middleton, are in a heated fundraising battle as they seek one of Council's citywide seats. 

According to records from the South Carolina Ethics Commission, in the July 1 to Sept. 30 quarter, Middleton, a businesswoman and attorney, raised $48,520 in campaign cash. That number includes $20,000 in personal funds that she loaned her campaign. Middleton has raised $50,250 for the election cycle.

Meanwhile, Duvall, the first-term at-large councilman and former director of the state Municipal Association, raised $41,930 in the July to September quarter, and has raised $45,510 for the election cycle. Virtually all of Duvall's fundraising came from outside donations, though he has put $1,145 in personal funds into the campaign. 

The at-large race is one of three Columbia City Council races on the ballot for the November general election. Aside from Duvall and Middleton, former victims advocate Amadeo Geere and refugee services coordinator Dylan Gunnels are also running for the at-large seat.

Ethics Commission records show that Geere raised $2,473 in campaign cash for the July to September period, and has collected $4,280 for the election cycle. Since this story was initially reported, Gunnels filed his fundraising report for the most recent quarter. He raised $5,830 for the period, which included $1,000 in personal funds. For the election cycle, Gunnels has raised just shy of $8,000 in campaign funds. 

Middleton — whose family has invested heavily in the revitalization of Main Street, particularly along the 1600 block, where they own several buildings and businesses — picked up a $500 donation from attorney Bakari Sellers last quarter. The former state representative and current CNN pundit also formally endorsed her.

"She's a leader for the future," Sellers said in an endorsement video. "She has fresh ideas, fresh vision, a fresh voice. Somebody that cares about the public schools, the infrastructure, the public safety in this community."

Other notable donors to Middleton last quarter included developer Joe Taylor ($1,000), attorney Joe McCulloch ($250) and businesswoman Martha Fowler ($200). A number of businesses associated with the Middleton family also kicked in some cash. For instance, Michael's Cafe and Catering donated $1,000, as did The Grand on Main.

Duvall had a number of notable donors last quarter, as well. Attorney and state Sen. Dick Harpootlian gave the incumbent $1,000, attorney and former state Rep. I.S. Leevy Johnson donated $100, current District 1 City Councilman Sam Davis gave $200 and former two-decade Columbia Mayor Bob Coble kicked in $500.

Duvall tallied 156 outside donations last quarter, while Middleton had 72 individual contributions.

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