Steinburg outraising, outspending Phelps in Senate 1

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D. Cole Phelps


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, November 1, 2018

In the closing weeks of the Senate District 1 campaign, Republican state Rep. Bob Steinburg is outspending his Democratic opponent, Cole Phelps, by an almost 2:1 margin.

Steinburg, a three-term House member from Chowan County, has spent more than $418,000 since July 1, according to the third quarter-plus campaign finance report he submitted to the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement this week.

By comparison, Phelps has spent more than $234,000 in that time period.

Much of the candidates' spending has gone to the mailers, TV ads and social media videos that have inundated the mailboxes and screens of northeastern North Carolina voters. Steinburg paid $165,000 to Political Ink Inc., of Washington D.C., for TV ads this month, while Phelps has relied on numerous, relatively small purchases for online media, mailers, and print advertising.

Both candidates have relied heavily on their political parties for support, but the Republican Party has supported Steinburg's campaign more than the Democratic Party has supported Phelps'.

The N.C. Senate Majority Fund contributed about $86,000 in in-kind contributions to Steinburg in October, and contributed more than $350,000 to him for the entire election. The contributions have supported Steinburg’s mailing and advertising expenses.

As for Phelps, the N.C. Democratic Party and the N.C. Democratic Party Senate Caucus combined have made about $130,000 in in-kind contributions to the Phelps campaign. Those expenditures have supported research, video and postage expenses. However, Phelps has also donated back almost $50,000 to the Senate Caucus.

Notably, the totals each candidate has received factor in “48-hour notice” contributions the campaigns garnered after Oct. 20, the end of the third-quarter reporting period. The state requires campaigns to report significant donations between that date and election day.

The Republican Party's support has erased a small fundraising advantage Phelps had this summer, when second-quarter reports showed him up a few thousand dollars over Steinburg.

Looking only at contributions from individuals, Phelps has out-raised Steinburg: $67,387 to $57,544 for the filing period. For the entire election, Phelps has raised $145,557 from individuals, including from more than 200 small donors, while Steinburg has raised $117,046.

The reports also show Steinburg has raised $53,350 from non-party political committees, while Phelps has raised only $25,980 from such committees.

Each candidate also has a handful of individuals or non-party committees who have given significant sums. Those who have given $2,000 or more to Steinburg for the election to date include: Charles Creighton, of Edenton, $2,500; Cypress Solar Political Action Committee, $5,200; the Employees PAC, $5,200; Brian Kennedy, of Lawrenceburg, Ind., and a solar company executive, $2,500; the NC Clean Energy Business Alliance PAC, $2,500; the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, $5,000; and J. Stephen Vanderwoude, of Chapel Hill, $5,200.

Those who have given $2,000 or more to Phelps for the election to date include: Hunter Bourne, of Kill Devil Hills, $2,000; Harley Cole, of Elizabeth City, $3,100; John Dawson, of Palo Alto, Calif., $2,000; the NC Advocates for Justice PAC, $5,200; the NC Association of Educators PAC, $2,000; Edward O'Neal, of Elizabeth City, $2,018; and One Vote at a Time NC, $3,030.