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Wooten outraising, outspending Graham in sheriff's race

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Tommy Wooten

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Friday, November 2, 2018

Republican Tommy Wooten has outraised and outspent Democrat Eddie Graham in their race to become Pasquotank County's next sheriff by a more than 2-1 margin.

In the latest campaign finance reports to the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, Wooten, a sergeant in the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office, reported spending $23,509 to date in the sheriff's race. He’s spent about $9,100 of that since July 1.

Graham, a sergeant in the Elizabeth City Police Department, has spent $9,952 for the entire race, based on a combination of his third-quarter report posted online with a prior report submitted to the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.

The reports also show Wooten has raised just shy of $25,000 over the entire sheriff's race, while Graham has raised about $12,000.

In an interview Thursday, Wooten claimed he's actually raised “well over” $30,000, and will be filing amendments to his report.

Asked Thursday about Wooten's fundraising, Graham said simply that he's focused on his campaign and that he's not taking any votes for granted.

Voting data so far are showing more Democratic than Republican turnout in Pasquotank, but Graham noted some might vote across party lines.

A review of the candidates' expense reports shows much of Wooten’s expenses have gone to campaign signs, renting billboards, radio advertising, T-shirts and other promotional expenses.

Other than billboards, Graham's report shows similar expenses.

In other campaigns in Pasquotank, incumbent Commissioner Charles Jordan has spent about $10,200 in his bid to retain one of two at-large seats on the Board of Commissioners up for election this year. Other county commissioners appointed him to serve in January to fill a vacancy. Now, Jordan, a Democrat, is running to win a full term.

The other candidates for the two seats on the commission board are incumbent Democratic Commissioner Bill Sterritt and Republican challengers Josh Tunnell and Barry Overman.

In raising the most of any commissioner candidate, Jordan said it reflected that he was running to win. Beyond campaign signs and advertising, he said he's still campaigning hard throughout the county. He's trying to show he wants to serve everyone, he said.

Tunnell has spent the second-most of commissioner candidates, reporting about $1,500 in expenses for the total election period.

All the other candidates for county commissioner have certified they'll spend less than $1,000 on their campaigns, elections staff said, which exempts them from detailed reporting requirements. Those candidates also include Pasquotank Commissioner Joe Winslow, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent, Sean Lavin, who are running in the county's Northern Outside district.

In the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools’ only contested school board race, only Ron Payne has raised and spent more than $1,000. He's running for one of two Outside City seats up for election this year. The other two candidates are incumbent Chairwoman Sharon Warden and George Archuleta.

Payne's third-quarter report shows he entered the filing period with $497 on hand and raised $998 more. However, he also reported $1,631 in expenses.

Payne said his total fundraising is closer to $2,500, and said his campaign has never been in a deficit.

Elections staff said Thursday they have not yet audited candidates' third-quarter reports, which can clarify and correct any issues with them.

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