POLITICS: Campaigns

Mike Ross bests Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas governor race fundraising

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Politics,Associated Press,Arkansas,Campaign Finance,2014 Elections,Campaigns

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross on Tuesday reported besting the Republican candidates for Arkansas governor in fundraising last month, rebounding after his chief GOP rival had raised more money for two straight months.

Ross reported raising more than $222,000 in March, edging out the more than $200,000 reported during the same month by GOP rival Asa Hutchinson. Ross and Hutchinson are both former congressmen who have enjoyed fundraising and organizational advantages over their lesser-known rivals in their respective primaries on May 20.

Ross reported spending more than $138,000 in March and had more than $2 million in the bank. Hutchinson spent more than $280,000 and had $1.2 million in the bank.

Ross' campaign said it was encouraged by the latest figures.

"The response from Mike Ross's plan to make pre-kindergarten education accessible to every 4-year-old in Arkansas has been overwhelming, and the energy and momentum continue to grow for our campaign across this state," Dustin Smith, Ross' deputy campaign manager for finance, said in a statement released by the campaign.

Hutchinson's campaign said it was also pleased with its fundraising progress. Hutchinson raised more money than Ross in January and February.

"We look forward to using the resources entrusted to us to make the case for job creation, lower taxes and more responsible state government," spokesman Christian Olson said in an email.

Tuesday was the deadline for statewide and legislative candidates to file their monthly fundraising reports with the secretary of state's office.

Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman, who is also seeking the Republican nomination, raised $38,345 in March and spent $25,892. He had $16,446 in the bank. A report was not available late Tuesday for Lynette Bryant, a substitute teacher who is seeking the Democratic nomination. Bryant hasn't filed a fundraising report since launching her bid in late February.

Hutchinson reported spending $185,821 on television advertising. Ross, who began airing his first television spots earlier this year, didn't report spending any money on TV advertising last month.

The Republican Governors Association has been airing spots that criticize Ross, while a group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association has been running ads targeting Hutchinson.

The Arkansas governor's office is one of the top targets this year for Republicans, who won control of the state Legislature in the 2012 election and hold all but one of the seats in the state's congressional delegation. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who defeated Hutchinson in the 2006 governor's race, is term limited and unable to seek re-election this year.

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