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Legislature incumbents collect large war chests
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None of the five members of the Hall County legislative delegation have opponents in Tuesday's primary and only one of them, Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, has opposition in the general election.

However, the five incumbents have a combined war chest of more than a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds.

The reports, filed June 30 with the State Ethics Commission, showed that the two veteran house members, Mills and state Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, have the most on hand. They are followed by state Sen. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, who has a sizeable amount on hand after paying off his debt from his first campaign two years ago.

Mills, chairman of the powerful House Banks and Banking committee, has $111,695.99 on hand for his fall race against Democrat Christopher Strickland. The banking committee is traditionally a place where campaign contributions are strong.

However, Mills' contributions this time came largely from outside the banking arena.

His largest contribution, $2,300, came from the campaign of state Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, president pro tempore of the Senate. Johnson, who is unopposed this year, is mentioned as a likely contender for lieutenant governor if incumbent Casey Cagle, R-Chestnut Mountain, opts to run for governor in 2010.

Mills received $2,000 from the political action committee of the Georgia Dental Association and $1,000 from the Georgia Industrial Loan Association. His contributions between March 31 and June 30 totalled $7,200.

His expenditures for the period, $9,731, included $5,916 to Landmark Communications, a political consulting firm.

Strickland, Mills' opponent in November, raised $2,575 for his campaign. The largest contribution was a $500 donation from C. Lynn Whitaker of Flowery Branch. Strickland's expenditures, $1,582, included his $400 qualifying fee and $455 for bumper stickers.

Rogers raised the most money between March and June, with $51,870.08 coming into his campaign coffers.

His largest contributions, each for $2,000, came from the Georgia Airports Association, Hall County Republican Party, Hulsey Environmental Services, Mansfield Oil Co., Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery, Jones & Hall Ventures, Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia and Novartis.

His expenditures, which totalled $28,160.95, included a $5,000 contribution to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association for an awards sponsorship; $4,714 to the Orchard golf club in Habersham County for a golf fundraiser; and $1,891.29 to Glen Ella Springs for food and lodging associated with the golf tournament.

He made contributions of $2,000 each to the campaigns of state Reps. Ben Harbin, R-Augusta, and Jeff Lewis, R-Cartersville, who are involved in Republican primary races on Tuesday. He gave $1,000 to the campaign of state Rep. Amos Amerson, R-Dahlonega, who is facing a GOP challenge from Lumpkin County Commission Chairman Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega.

Hawkins, who is unopposed in his first re-election bid, found support among his colleagues in the dental profession. Hawkins raised $15,800 between March and June, largely on contributions from fellow dentists throughout the state.

He was able to retire a personal loan of $85,897.57 he made to fund his 2006 campaign against Mark Musselwhite. After paying off his debt, Hawkins retained a balance of $57,584.98.

His expenditures, in addition to the loan payment, included $8,287.56 in interest on the loan and $7,650 to Landmark Communications for production of a campaign newsletter. Hawkins also made contributions to other senators and to Mills' campaign.

State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, also drew no opposition on his first bid for re-election. Collins has $16,983.52 on hand in his campaign following donations of $2,000 and expenditures of $6,900. His largest donation, $1,000, came from the Georgia Dental political action committee.

His expenditures included contributions to several of his fellow House members who have opposition.
State Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, is unopposed in his race for a third term in the House. He raised $880 in the March-to-June period, the largest a $440 contribution from Harmony Grove Hardware in Commerce.

His expenditures, which totalled $2,540, included $500 contributions to state Rep. Allen Freeman, R-Macon, and state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, who is running for Congress.
Benton has $29,270.79 on hand in his campaign account.

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