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Led By Rachel Hunt, Democrats Nearly Double GOP Fundraising For Mecklenburg Races

The North Carolina Democratic Party and individual donors are pouring money into Mecklenburg’s six competitive state House and Senate raises, and have significantly outraised the Republican incumbents.

The six Democratic challengers have collectively raised $3.67 million, according to the most recent campaign finance reports released this week. The six GOP incumbents have raised a total of $1.84 million ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The party’s efforts in Mecklenburg reflect the county’s outsize role in their efforts to break the Republican Super Majority in the General Assembly.

“There has never been this influx of cash from outside the county,” said Republican political consultant Larry Shaheen, who is working for GOP State Senate incumbent Jeff Tarte, who has been outraised by Democratic challenger Natasha Marcus. “We are looking at the Congressionalization of our state legislative races.”

The Democratic challenger who has raised the most money is Rachel Hunt, who is challenging Republican Bill Brawley in District 103 in the N.C. House.

That district covers Matthews and Mint Hill and is one of the most conservative. But Democrats believe they can flip the seat, in part because of the controversy over House Bill 514, which lets Matthews and three other municipalities build and operate their own taxpayer-funded charter school districts.

Hunt, the daughter of former governor Jim Hunt, has raised $1.26 million – far more than anyone else in the county.

She has raised $554,000 from individuals, and $659,000 from the N.C. Democratic Party. The massive amount from the party has raised eyebrows since the party’s interest in Hunt coincided with her father giving the party a $300,000 donation in September. That was first reported byWRAL in Raleigh Wednesday.

Under N.C. law, Hunt could only give his daughter $5,200 this election cycle. But he can give as much as he wants to the state party.

Robert Howard, a spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, said Hunt did not direct the party as to how it should spend its money.

"Who the party supports is the party's decision and the party's decision alone," Howard said.

He said fundraising overall has been "unprecedented."

"People are fired up to break this Republican supermajority, and especially in Mecklenburg County, people recognize that a number of these districts are competitive," Howard said.

Brawley has raised just less than $410,000. The two candidates have been bombarding each other with numerous attack ads in mailers and on TV.

The only GOP incumbent to outraise a Democratic challenger is State Sen. Dan Bishop, who represents Senate District 39, in south Charlotte, Matthews and Mint Hill.

Bishop has raised $419,105 to $117,000 for Democrat Chad Stachowicz. Much of Bishop’s money has come from the N.C. Senate Majority Fund, which has attacked Stachowicz over his DUI arrest 10 years ago.

The Democrat who has raised the second most money is Christy Clark, who is challenging GOP incumbent John Bradford in north Mecklenburg’s House District 98. Clark has raised $795,000 to Bradford’s $166,520.

District 98 is a Republican-leaning district, but Democrats have criticized Bradford for his former support of the I-77 toll lanes.

In House District 104, Democrat Brandon Lofton has raised $525,000 to Republican Andy Dulin’s $289,000. In House District 105, Democrat Wesley Harris has raised $409,000 to Republican Scott Stone’s $254,000.

“You never saw people with enough money to do broadcast television before," Shaheen said.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.