Senate GOP spends $750K attacking Coleman, backing Dickerson

Newly-filed financial disclosures show the Senate Republican Caucus spent about $875,000 in October – most of it going to support incumbent Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville and to attack his Democratic opponent, Erin Coleman.

The Caucus report covering Oct. 1-29 shows $668,789 spent on attacking Coleman and another $81,416 spent defending Dickerson – a combined total of $750,205. (To the best of one old guy’s recollection, that’s the most that has ever been spent by a partisan PAC in a Tennessee legislative race. Combined with the candidates’ own spending, the spending in Senate District 20 goes well over the $1 million mark.)

The Senate GOP spent a more modest $35,000 on supporting Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga in Senate District 10, the only other seriously contested Senate campaign in the state.

The Caucus started Oct. 1 with $626,767 in the bank and collected $405,750 during the reporting period. Much of the money came from Republican senators or their PACs.  Biggest donor ($45,000) was the PAC operated by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, who is expected to be elected as Senate speaker next year.  Most other senators gave at least $10,000 each to the Caucus fund — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson gave $25,000 each; Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron’s PAC gave $20,000. The Caucus still had a cash-on-hand balance of $157,569 on Oct. 29.

In contrast, the Senate Democratic Caucus collected just $28,000 in the reporting period — $20,000 of that coming from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville – and spent just $22,758 (most in funds sent to the state Democratic party). Senate Democrats had a cash-on-hand balance of $75,627 for the final days of campaigning.

Note: When this was initially posted the totals for McNally’s PAC (MCPAC) and Norris’s PAC (MPAC) were misstated. They’re straightened out now

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