MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb business owners are still investing in Lester Miller's mayoral campaign, but dozens of doctors are prescribing opponent Blake Sullivan.

Cliffard Whitby got donations from businesses, several elected officials and a national political-action committee.

And music fans might say that one of Larry Schlesinger's biggest donations comes with strings attached.

Those are some of the findings from year-end campaign finance reports from Macon-Bibb's mayoral candidates.

Four candidates -- Miller, Sullivan, Whitby and Schlesinger - have more than $40,000 in the bank. After that, it's a long drop to candidate Charles Olson, who reported a campaign balance of $4,080.

The latest round of reports show how much the candidates raised and where the money came from, with barely four months to go before Macon-Bibb picks its next mayor.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Lester Miller, Blake Sullivan lead the money race for Macon-Bibb mayor

BIG MONEY

Large donors -- those giving $1,000 or more -- are going big for Miller and Sullivan.

Over the second half of 2019, 44 people donated a grand or more to Sullivan, 37 to Miller. 

14 of them gave $2,800, the maximum amount, to Sullivan, including former state representative Allen Peake, engineer Carl Hofstadter, businessman Charles Heard and homemaker Jane Sullivan.

Miller's big donors included Patti Williams and Kyle Steele of Allstate Bail, landscaper James Bloodworth and business owner Michael Napier.

12 people donated $1,000 or more to Whitby, three to Schlesinger, but none gave the maximum amount.

One of Schlesinger's top donors was musician Robert McDuffie of New York -- the founder of Mercer University's Robert McDuffie's Center for Strings. He donated $1,000.

SMALL MONEY

Miller's reports say they raised more than $13,300 -- about 12.6% of their total -- from people who donated less than $100. In a news release, the Miller campaign reported that nearly three quarters of their donations total less than $100, crediting their "unprecedented grassroots engagement."

Sullivan has raised $3,790 from small donors, about 9% of his total. Whitby raised $955 and Schesinger $380 in small donations.

DOCTORS GIVING BIG

The medical community came up big for Blake Sullivan, with 55 doctors, dentists and other medical professionals and retirees chipping in to his campaign. They include Christopher McLendon, $2,800, Winston Wilfong, $2,800; Kenneth Harper, $400, Waldo Floyd, $1000; William Thompson, $2,000; and dentist William Argo, $2,800.

Schlesinger got 14 donations from medical professionals, Miller three and Whitby none.

Navicent Health CEO Ninfa Saunders, a registered nurse, hedged her bets by donating $500 to both Schlesinger and Sullivan.

SPLIT LEGAL VERDICT

In the first half of 2019, around 20% of Miller's donors were attorneys.

But in the latest report, more lawyers gave to Sullivan. His top legal donors included Dan Speight, $2,800; Steve Stewart, $700 (two donations); Frank Gunn, $250; Stephen Welsh, $1,000; and Ward Stone, $500.

Lawyers backing Miller included Judy Beckett, $1,000; Chloe Radford,  $2,550; Akin, Webster and Matson, $1,000; Allmand Law Firm, $200; Joseph Prine, $750.

14 lawyers donated to Sullivan in this latest round, 12 to Miller. Although not all donors listed professions, Schlesinger and Whitby each got one donation from attorneys.

BUSINESSES

As in past reports, dozens of businesses donated to Miller's mayoral campaign -- 25 in all. That's more than his three top rivals put together.

Some of the companies on his donations list: Paulk Landscaping, $2,300; Audio Engineering, $2,000; Pruett Air Conditioning of Eastman, $1,800; The Gables at Forsyth, $500; the Cottages at Wesleyan, $500. Heritage Realty, $200; a Warner Robins restaurant business, Robins Q LLC, $2,800; and a beer vendor, The Growler Spot, $250

Miller also received nearly $12,000 from people connected to one company -- Sheridan Construction. The company itself donated $550, but three Sheridan employees and one spouse each donated the maximum, $2,800. The spouse was longtime Macon Telegraph reporter Joe Kovac.

Sullivan's three business donations included a timber company, Stucky Timberland, $1,000; and a decorating company, Prestige Properties, $1,000.

Whitby received seven business donations, including Frontier Investment, $1,200; Caduceus Occupational Medicine, $1,000;  and Goldstone General Contractors, $1,000. Also Cater Casket owner Corey Cater gave Whitby $500;

Meanwhile, Schlesinger cashed checks from Griggers Electric, $100; International City Medical Consultants, $500; and Southern Primary Care, $500.

POLITICAL TIES

As usual, some longtime Macon-Bibb politicians showed up on the donors list.

Cliffard Whitby got donations from former Mayor C. Jack Ellis, $250, current county commissioner Elaine Lucas, $200, and $500 from a former Macon City Council member, Alveno Ross. Attorney Sam Hart Jr. donated $500 to Whitby. He's the son of the former county commission chairman Sam Hart, now water authority chairman.

Whitby also received $1,000 from a Maryland political action committee, GOLD (Greater Opportunities for Leadership Development), which donates to Democratic candidates nationwide.

Former Macon Mayor George Israel III gave Sullivan $100. So did Dele Reichert of Dunwoody Insurance, wife of the current mayor, Robert Reichert.

While fundraising totals don't necessarily translate into votes, Miller, Sullivan, Schlesinger and Whitby all reported having more than $40,000 in the bank on Dec. 31.

  • Miller raised $105,369 in the second half of the year, spent $28,837 and has a balance of $228,121.
  • Sullivan, who announced in August that he's running, raised $132,376 in the second half of 2019. He spent $40,265 and has a $92,111 balance
  • Schlesinger: raised $14,830, spent $13,024, balance $56,903.
  • Whitby, who announced in October, raised $54,667, spent $12,808 and has a balance $41,859. He's loaned his own campaign $25,000.

Charles Olson, Stanley Stewart, Michael McKeever and county commissioner Virgil Watkins also filed financial-disclosure forms, but reported having $4,000 or less on hand.

Candidates qualify for the race in March, when mayoral candidates must pay a $3,000 fee to get on the ballot

Bibb County votes on the mayor's race on May 19. If a runoff is needed, it would be held July 21.

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