Mark Padgett made a major move in the Knoxville mayor's race this week, releasing an impressive campaign contribution total more than a week before his competition will report. It raised eyebrows and got him street cred among political junkies.
Padgett came up with $90,040 in financial contributions from 185 contributors during the holidays, despite bad weather, and without holding a formal fund-raiser. He reported $16,618 in expenditures, leaving him with almost $74,000 in the bank as the race begins to heat up. At least $7,500 of the donations came from people named Padgett, including $2,000 from Padgett himself. But among the other donors are some well-known names. Padgett received $1,100 from Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike McWherter and $1,000 from former state Democratic Party Chairman Doug Horne. Speaking of the Democratic old guard—which includes Padgett's father, longtime former Knox County Clerk Mike Padgett—there is also a nominal $200 contribution from former Congressman Bob Clement. There are other Nashville-based donors too, including $250 from now-former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Ken Givens, and $150 from Ryan Gooch, the state's Director of Energy Policy. (Gooch's father, local lawyer Warren Gooch, has also donated $2,000.)
Two interesting line items: Padgett received $1,000 from the campaign funds of former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, and $1,000 from Ragsdale's former chief of staff, Mike Arms. That's notable both because they're Republicans—and while the mayoral race is nonpartisan, Padgett is a Democrat—and because we're sort of surprised anyone wants those names on their list, given their still-low standing with the local electorate. Is this where their rehabilitation begins?
All remaining candidates must report contributions to the Knox County Election Commission by Feb. 1. County Clerk Foster Arnett dropped out of the race last week. Rob Frost, the former City Councilman, had to be out of town most of December and January due to a death in his family and has been unable to organize a kick-off fund-raiser. Marilyn Roddy and Madeline Rogero have held high-profile fund-raisers with impressive host committee members, the results of which will be known next week.
Former county commissioner and city councilman Ivan Harmon is also running. The only other dynamic at work in the race at this point is whether businessman Eddie Manis will get in.