City of Columbia Seal

Second term Columbia City Councilman Moe Baddourah has already drawn two opponents who want to take the District 3 seat in November's municipal election.

If fundraising numbers from the first quarter of this year are any indication, the incumbent will have his hands full.

According to state Ethics Commission records, educator John Loveday roared out of the gate in fundraising for his campaign for District 3, which is in central and southeast Columbia and includes such neighborhoods as Shandon and Rosewood. Loveday raised $45,304 from January through the end of March, by far the most in the race so far. He had $36,000 in cash on hand at the end of the quarter.

Meanwhile, another District 3 candidate, Will Brennan, raised $20,558 during the first quarter, and had $20,000 in cash on hand. Brennan lives in Hollywood-Rose Hill and owns a construction and design firm. He ran for the District 5 seat on Richland County Council in 2018, but was downed by Allison Terracio in a Democratic primary.

And then there is Baddourah, who was first elected to the District 3 seat in 2012. State records indicate he raised $8,600 in the first three months of the year. He had a total of $9,332 in cash on hand at the end of the first quarter. 

This will be an intriguing race for Baddourah, a vocal Council member who has often been an antagonist of Mayor Steve Benjamin through the years, but who spent a good hunk of his current term in a sort of political exile. He was arrested in July 2016 and charged with criminal domestic violence after allegedly hitting his then-wife with a car door in the parking lot of a restaurant. Subsequently, he was suspended from office in March 2017 by Gov. Henry McMaster, and remained suspended for a year and a half while his case was pending in court.

Baddourah entered pre-trial intervention in the case in September 2018, and was reinstated by McMaster in October.

Looking inside the recent fundraising numbers, each of the District 3 candidates had some noteworthy donors in the first quarter.

Among Loveday's contributors were state Sen. Dick Harpootlian ($1,000), former state representative and current CNN pundit Bakari Sellers ($500), former state Sen. Joel Lourie ($200), state Sen. Vincent Sheheen ($250), former state First Lady Rachel Hodges ($1,000) and Democratic strategist Tyler Jones ($250). Horror film director David Axe even kicked in $10.

Meanwhile, some of Brennan's donors included well-known businessmen Richard Burts ($100) and Jeff Prioreschi ($200), Soda City Market mastermind Emile DeFelice ($1,000), former state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum ($250) and the law office of state Rep. Seth Rose ($500), among a number of others.

Brennan also got $250 from Charles Barkley and $250 from Michael Jordan. (That's Charles Barkley the Columbia business owner and Michael Jordan the Mount Pleasant lawyer, not the NBA stars.)

Interestingly, Ethics Commission listings show Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy gave $1,000 each to Loveday and Brennan.

Baddourah's listed first quarter contributors include Columbia City Ballet artistic director William Starrett ($200), Columbia businessman Joe Taylor ($500) and Andy's Deli owner Andy Shlon ($1,000), among others.

Aside from the City Council District 3 race, there also will be races in November for the District 2 seat currently held by Ed McDowell and the at-large seat currently held by Howard Duvall.

Fundraising has been light in those races so far. Duvall received $1,500 in campaign donations in the first quarter, and has $2,600 in cash on hand. McDowell had $400 in contributions in the first quarter, and is $272 in the red in regard to campaign cash on hand, per Ethics Commission records.

Dylan Gunnels has said he's going to run against Duvall for the at-large seat, but as of April 16 he had not yet filed reports with the Ethics Commission.

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