Elections

Preliminary reports show Sulka out-fundraising Bensch in Bluffton mayoral race

Bluffton town council and mayoral candidates debate during a Bluffton mayoral and candidate forum Oct. 7. The event was hosted by the League of Women Voters at Bluffton Town Hall.
Bluffton town council and mayoral candidates debate during a Bluffton mayoral and candidate forum Oct. 7. The event was hosted by the League of Women Voters at Bluffton Town Hall. jkarr@islandpacket.com

Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka has built a significant fundraising advantage over her lone challenger in her bid for re-election.

Sulka has raised $1,500 in total contributions, according to a pre-election disclosure recently filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission.

Her challenger, Beaufort County Commissioner Cynthia Bensch, reported $150 in campaign funds, which she contributed herself.

These preliminary financial reports, which are typically filed with the state in mid-October, do not necessarily reflect the total money a candidate will collect prior to the Nov. 3 election.

"A lot of people start sending money toward the end of the (October)," Sulka said.

She expects her final fundraising total to be significantly higher.

Those figures will be available in January at the latest, when the state requires post-election disclosures to be filed.

Bensch said Friday that she has "quite a few" checks from donors, but she hasn't "had time to set up a (campaign bank) account and deposit them yet."

She declined to estimate the value of those contributions, but said she would disclose the donations to the state after they are deposited.

"Things are going fantastic with the campaign" both in terms of fundraising and community response, she said.

"I'm astounded at the support and all the phones call I'm getting," Bensch said.

Sulka also said she is feeling confident going into the final stretch of campaign season.

"I appreciate (all of the campaign contributions) I have received. I know it's out the goodness of (the donors') hearts," she said. "But these kind of elections aren't really decided by who has the most money. Really, it's about getting out in the community and meeting with the voters."

During Sulka's first mayoral run in 2008, she reported contributions of $1,306.11.

When she ran for re-election unopposed in 2011, she reported $500.

When Bensch ran for County Council in 2012, she listed contributions of $915.78.

To access the S.C. State Ethics Commission's online archive of campaign contribution disclosures, visit http://apps.sc.gov/publicreporting/index.aspx.

Total campaign contributions reported by Bluffton town council candidates, according to pre-election disclosures filed with S.C. State Ethics Commission earlier this month:

- Dan Wood: $6,098

- Michael Spears: $2993.90

- Ted Huffman (incumbent): $2,225

- Eleanor McKinsey-Chandler: $406.46

- Brendan Downey: $300

- Jim Sims: $160

- Oliver Brown: $0

- Harry Lutz: $0

Follow reporter Lucas High at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.

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