Elections, Government, Latest News

Governor hopefuls spending reports

The field of 12 gubernatorial hopefuls is down to two: Republican Gov. Jim Justice, seeking to keep his seat, and Democrat Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, seeking to knock him out of it.

Justice topped a field of seven, Salango a field of five. Here’s a look at the money that got them there. We look at the top three vote-getters for both primaries; all but one funded their campaigns partly or mostly out of their own pockets.

The figures cited here come from the candidates’ Primary Reports, covering April 1-May 24, and Second Quarter Reports, covering May 25-June 30. The primary election was June 9.

Candidates are presented by party and in order of vote totals. The next report they will file covers July 1-Sept. 30.


Justice received 133,258 votes, 62.7% of the total.

Former Commerce Secretary and founder of engineering firm The Thrasher Group, Woody Thrasher, took a distant second, with 38,898 votes, 18.3%. Thrasher and Justice were both Democrats when Justice appointed him to Commerce in 2017. Thrasher resigned in June 2018. He switched parties prior to announcing his candidacy in early 2019.

Thrasher spent nearly twice as much money on the campaign trail as Justice and traveled the entire state.

Airline pilot and former Delegate Mike Folk took third, with 26,735 votes, 12.58%. 


As in the 2016 election, Justice lent his campaign account far more than he raised from donors. He opened the primary period with $68,306.90 and raised $52,740. His campaign revenue also included voided checks to an opinion research firm and a tele-town hall company totaling $32,585.58.

He lent his campaign $607,700 that period and spent $710,801.98.

In the second quarter he received $70,575 plus $566.71 in-kind and a $4,000 credit on professional fees. Loans for the period totaled $266,000. The campaign spent $321,523.46, leaving a balance of $39,592.04 going into the next period.

For the year, his campaign had unpaid bills totaling $115,803 and outstanding loans of $1,750,200. His totals for the year were $700,624.78 raised, excluding the loans, and $2,463,125.54 spent.


Thrasher also lent his campaign more than he fundraised.

Thrasher opened with $42,272.65 and received $16,530 plus a $1,000 transfer from the account of Boogie Ambler, a former GOP delegate who lost a bid for a state Senate seat in 2018. Thrashed also receive $266.15 in-kind.

He lent his campaign $810,300 during the primary period and spent $840,636.49.

In the second quarter he raised just $7,925 plus $390,500 in loans. He spent $415,010.76, leaving a balance of $11,230.40.

His campaign ended with $3,821,574.10 in outstanding loans. His totals were $460,617.94 raised, $4,270,370.13 spent — 1.73 times what Justice spent, to earn just 29% of the number of votes Justice received.


Like the other two, Folk lent his campaign more than he received through fundraising, though his overall campaign spending was  more modest.

He opened the primary period with $30,005.34 and received $9,676. The campaign received $17,305.60 in-kind, with all but two of those donations, totaling $1,220, from himself for various campaign expenses.

He also lent the campaign $90,000 that period. He spent $115,273.

In the second quarter, Folk raised $15,020 and gave his campaign $3,553 in-kind along with a $10,000 loan. He spent $33,350.14.

Folk ended his campaign with $189,100 in outstanding loans. His fundraising totaled $136,583.96 and his spending $273,910.41.


The top two finishers in this race were closer in votes, with third place a ways out.

Salango received 74,805 votes, 38.68%. Stephen Smith, former director of the Healthy Kids and Families Coalition (now called Our Future West Virginia), running on a progressive platform, received 65,544 votes, 33.89%. Smith outpolled Salango in Monongalia and Preston counties.

State Sen. Ron Stollings took a distant third with 25,782 votes, 13.33%.


About 34% of Salango’s total revenue came from loans from himself to his campaign. He opened the primary with $786,614.07 and raised $123,051.50 plus $17,912.75 in-kind from himself. He spent $809,035.14.

In the second quarter he raised $265,446.71 plus $73,500 at a Charleston fundraiser. The campaign received $7,355.40 in-kind, all but $2,400 from himself. He spent $114,600.29, leaving a balance of $251,416.85.

Salango closed the period with $500,000 in outstanding loans. His totals to date were $988,429.54 raised apart from the loans, and $1,125,424.73 spent.


Smith touted his grass-roots campaign built on individual small donors. His primary report, coming in at 110 pages, compared to 22 for Salango. He spent nothing from his own pocket.

He opened with $185,723.10. The many pages of small donations totaled $125,543.03, along with more pages of in-kind donations totaling $12,305.46. He spent $197,349.50.

With the second quarter report extending past the end of the campaign, it filled only 40 pages. Smith received $54,569.83 along with $1,716 in-kind. He spent $145,893.46.

That left him with a balance of $25,719.90. His totals for the year were $975,275.05 raised and $923,918.33 spent.


Stollings  spent  a little more than his former legislative colleague and fellow third-placer. He lent his campaign some money, but not nearly as much as Folk or the bigger spenders.

Stollings opened with $119,702.63 and raised $25,665. He lent his campaign $20,000. He spent $127,783.13.

In the second quarter, he raised another $12,460 and spent $36,404.28, leaving a balance of $13,404.20.

Altogether, Stollings lent his campaign $40,000. His totals were $263,357.57 raised and $288,854.78 spent.

Tweet  @dbeardtdp