Incumbent 10th District U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry has loaned his campaign committee $175,000, according to a Federal Election Commission fund-raising report. Both McHenry, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Daniel Johnson submitted their required financing data to the FEC for the second quarter of 2008 this past week.
The report shows that McHenry, a Cherryville resident and Gaston County native who is seeking his third two-year term in Washington, made the loan on June 30, the final day of the reporting period that began April 17. The note carries an interest rate of 6 percent and is payable on demand.
McHenry also has an existing loan for $90,500 with First National Bank in Shelby that was made during his first campaign for congress is 2004.
While the Johnson camp views the loan as a sign of financial weakness for the congressman, the McHenry campaign said the personal cash injection does not mean he is having difficulty with his re-election operation and sought to deflect questions back to the race itself.
"Patrick is raising the money it takes to keep fighting for Western North Carolina," McHenry for Congress Campaign Manager Rebecca Yount said. "His opponent's campaign is being well funded by liberal special-interest groups, but we will have the resources to win in November."
Yount characterized McHenry's loan as a "personal investment in his fight for good jobs and lower gas prices."
But the Johnson campaign believes the loan is evidence that McHenry is vulnerable.
"This shows (McHenry) may not be confident he can get the support that he needs from the district," Johnson for Congress Campaign Manager Lauren Moore said, adding that she is surprised McHenry is having to tap personal resources several months before the Nov. 4 general election.
The overall report shows that McHenry raised $145,665 in the quarter, including $101,665 from individuals and $44,000 from political action committees (PACs). Johnson, a Hickory native and former Wake County prosecutor, took in $124,729, with $106,345 coming from individual donations and $17,500 from PACs.
Faced with a primary challenger for the first time since being elected in 2004, McHenry's campaign spent $235,176 in the last quarter. Johnson, seeking to become the first Democrat to represent Caldwell County in Washington since 1962, spent $68,963. As of June 30, McHenry had $410,742 cash on hand and $265,500 in debts from the two loans. Johnson reported $218,504 in the bank and no outstanding debt.
Regarding Johnson's fund-raising, Moore said, "I think it shows that we are competitive and that we have the support to be able to stay competitive with a two-term incumbent who is well-financed by the banking and insurance lobbies."
Johnson said the report is indicative of "the strong coalition we are building here in the 10th District. People in our community are joining with us because they are ready to end partisan bickering and want leaders who will work hard to find real solutions to the serious problems facing Western North Carolina families."
For the financing cycle that began in 2007, McHenry has raised more than $1 million and spent $915,780. According to FEC report, 43 percent of McHenry's money has come from individuals, while 42 percent has been from PACs. Bank of America's PAC gave McHenry's campaign $4,000 in the second quarter, while recent BofA acquisition Countrywide Financial – a casualty of the national mortgage crisis – kicked in $3,000. The largest PAC donation for McHenry this period was $5,000 from the National Automotive Dealers Association's Dealers Election Action Committee.
Johnson has raised $341,942 overall and spent $123,438. Individual donations have accounted for nearly 92 percent of his campaign funds. In the second quarter, Johnson received $7,000 overall from New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel's campaign and his National Leadership PAC, while North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler gave $1,000 from his 3rd and Long PAC. Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer gave $5,000 through his Committee for a Livable Future PAC, with N.C. Reps. Bob Etheridge and Mel Watt donating $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.
Though favored to win another term in the traditionally Republican district, there have been indications that McHenry is engaged in a tougher fight than his previous general election campaigns.
A district poll last month showed McHenry 11 points ahead of Johnson, though he had lower support than fellow Republicans John McCain and Pat McCrory in their campaigns for president and governor, respectively. And two weeks ago, the Cook Political Report – a non-partisan newsletter that analyzes elections – moved the 10th District seat from "Solid Republican" to "Likely Republican."
The campaigns will report third quarter fund-raising totals October 15.