Rex: Coin in pocket

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 11:45pm

Like a lot of people in this state, Rex isn’t ready for the onslaught of political advertisements and mailers now that a major gubernatorial election is upon us.

Unlike most people, Rex has to pay attention to these things. So he might as well dig in and break a couple things down.

Last week, the wannabe governors had to show how much coin they have in their pockets. Some were obviously better than others. Because, no matter how much you hate it, money wins elections.

Here’s how the cash cows milked for the six boys and one girl:

•State Sen. Jim Kyle raised $741,484.99 in the last six months, spent $153,442.33, and has a total of $588,042.66 in cash on hand. Lucky for him, Kyle can spend all that scratch on the Democratic primary, which will be competitive, as nobody’s pulling away from the pack. He is handicapped for the next few months, of course, because he can’t raise money while the legislature is in session.

•Riding behind is former state Rep. Kim McMillan. Her campaign raised $159,981.42 in the past six months, spent $198,372.72, and has a total of $106,726.47 in the bank now. The problem is that although she’s raised a total of $454,938.60, she’s barely topping $100K in the bank. Subtract $10,000 from that total because it was a contribution made to her general election fund, and she has less than a $100K going into a primary against two well-funded Democratic opponents. Yikes.

•Democrat Mike McWherter is coasting along fine right now, but he might’ve erred in holding out his own cash — a personal loan likely would’ve killed his primary competition. In the last six months, he raised $402,868.91, spent $389,091.03, and has $619,999.90 in the bank. Overall his campaign has raised $1,053,173.91, but $146,952.91 is marked specifically for the general election.

•The Republican in the biggest world of hurt is Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons. He raised $225,218.37 in the past six months, spent $279,870.22, and has $246,562.64 in the bank. Of that, $41,818.41 can only be used if he makes it out of the GOP primary. For the record, his campaign has raised $641,983.78 over the course of its entire life. Slim pickins.

•Moving on to the big dogs, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam raised $2,860,000 in the past six months, spent $1,090,031.18 and has $4,227,874.40 in the bank. Of that, $1,010,345 can only be used if he survives the Republican primary in August. His campaign has raised a total of $5,737,583 to date.

•Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, like Kyle, is going to live off money already raised for the next few months, since he can’t solicit funds during session. Over the past six months, he brought in $1,420,000 and spent $317,925.34, leaving $2,353,042.30 in the bank, of which $467,920 is available only for the general election. All told, his campaign team has raised $2,756,642.

•Finally there is Chattanooga Rep. Zach Wamp. His team raised $1,318,022 in the last six months, spent $552,523.83, and has $1,874,749.94 in the bank. Of that, $473,743 can only be used if he survives the Republican primary. He has raised $2,571,212 overall.

So what does it all mean? Simply put, McMillan and Gibbons better hurry up and show some momentum before the cash spigot closes on them. Rex won’t say their campaigns are on “death watch,” but he did check campaign receipts for signs of any defibrillators.

For all those people who are going to chime in here and say money has too much influence in campaigns, or the press only cares about money, Rex leaves you with this: You gotta have some muscle to play in the big leagues, kids. If you can’t get people to part with their bread for you, then you likely aren’t going to get people to vote for you.

Got a tip for Rex? Contact him at rnoseworthy@nashvillecitypaper.com