His potential challengers, however, point to Lee’s financial report as evidence that he’s lost much of his support after voting to raise property taxes and serving on the TSPLOST roundtable.
Lee’s campaign contribution disclosure report, turned in to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on Monday, showed contributions from several people or groups with business before the Cobb Board of Commissioners, including $5,000 from C.W. Matthews Contracting of Marietta, the largest privately owned road contractor in the Southeast, and its current and retired employees.
Owen Brown and Jim Ezell of Marietta, executives at Retail Planning Corp., gave Lee’s campaign a total of $2,500. He also received $1,000 from Waste Management.
Lee is facing challenges from former Cobb Chairman Bill Byrne and retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce, a tea party leader. Larry Savage, who Lee defeated for the chairman’s post in a 2010 special election, is also expected to run, though he has yet to file a declaration if intent with the Campaign Finance Commission.
Though Lee’s contributions dropped by more than half from the $50,660 he raised in the first half of 2011, he is still confident about being re-elected.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Lee said. “It’s early in the process. One of the candidates was in last time, the other one is new. I’m not familiar with him. And Chairman Byrne has three times before, since he resigned as chairman, announced he was running for office and never went through with it. Twice he pulled out and once he was found to be unqualified to fit the position he was seeking. So, no, I don’t see any serious threat.”
But Byrne, who served as chairman from 1992 to 2002, when he resigned to run for governor, said he was “shocked” to see Lee’s finance report. He said Lee’s support of a 15 percent property tax increase, as well as his participating in the 21-member TSPLOST roundtable that put together a list of more than $6.14 billion in transportation projects that voters in a 10-county region will vote on, have scared off contributors.
“What is shocking is that Tim is the incumbent, and he should be at $100,000 or more,” Byrne said. “It’s a little more than three months before we qualify. … Tim is going to need an awful lot of money to sell and cover up his track record. If he doesn’t raise the money, he can’t do that.”
Candidates running in primaries qualify when they give their official notice of candidacy, between May 23 and 25, Cobb County elections director Janine Eveler said.
While he said Lee appeared to have some supporters with deep pockets, Savage said Tuesday that Lee had a lot of work to do to reach his fundraising goals.
“That’s a pretty ambitious figure, and it definitely doesn’t look good so far,” he said.
Lee’s financial report shows him with $18,508 in cash on hand, compared to $14,806 for Byrne. But Byrne said Tuesday that two recent fundraisers gave him around $5,100, bringing his total to more than $19,000.
Lee’s report shows him repaying a $19,200 loan, which he had going into this reporting period, with Bank of North Georgia on Sept. 25. But he took out another $18,000 loan with the same bank on Oct. 18.
Though 2011 Cobb Chamber Chairman Rob Garcia is Bank of North Georgia’s president and chief operating officer, Lee said he has got the loans there because it has been his bank for 10 years.
Lee’s expenditures include $17,900 for political consulting and research with American Viewpoint, as well as $6,000 with Speakeasy for speech training. Byrne couldn’t resist taking a shot at the latter expenditure.
“I’ve heard him speak as recently as Saturday morning,” Byrne said of Lee. “It sounded to me like he wasted $6,000.”
But Savage said he understood why Lee would spend money on speech training.
“That, in all honesty, would be a fairly legitimate expense, because the way you represent yourself is paramount,” he said.
Boyce’s campaign financial report, also filed Monday, shows him with contributions totaling $1,250.27. He also loaned his own campaign $10,000. The report shows Boyce with $9,879.60 cash on hand.
Boyce said he was focused on his own campaign and hadn’t seen Lee’s financial report. He planned to host a kick-off event Tuesday night that would line-up his campaign staff.
Lee said that whether or not he reaches his fundraising goal will be based on who he is running against.
“It will all depend on how much, if any competition, surfaces at qualifying,” he said.
After facing the Republican field, Lee said he doesn’t anticipate any opposition in the Nov. 6 general election.
In addition to his duties as chairman, Lee is the owner of Summit View Marketing, whose only client is TenCate, a manufacturer of protective fabrics and artificial turf.
The chairman’s position pays $131,231 annually, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
Byrne said has a fundraiser scheduled for Jan. 24, and plans another one in late February. Lee said he wouldn’t share his fundraising schedule “at this time.”