While it’s anyone’s guess as to who will claim three available seats on the Park County Commission, campaign finance reports suggest three candidates are way ahead of the pack when it comes to fundraising.
Among the 10 Republicans running for the commission, Dossie Overfield of Cody has raised the most money — more than $11,700 from 66 donors in the last several months, mostly from the Cody area. Meanwhile, Pat Stuart reported raising more than $7,700 from 43 donors and incumbent Joe Tilden of Cody pulled in $7,100 from 31 contributors.
No other candidate had raised more than $1,700 as of the reports, which generally ran through the first part of this month.
The documents indicate that a combined total of more than $60,000 has been committed to the commission race this year.
The amount of money a candidate raises is only one indicator of the strength of their campaigns, in part because some contenders don’t actively seek out donations and choose to spend their own money.
Stuart appears to have led the way in personal spending, chipping in $7,000 of her own money. That gave the Heart Mountain area resident a race-leading total of $14,731 worth of contributions as she headed into the final stretch of the campaign.
Five candidates have personally committed more than $4,000 on their bids for the commission.
Bob Berry of Cody reported he’s chipped in nearly $6,000 of his own money. Combined with $100 he anonymously received in an envelope, Berry had $6,049.10 in contributions.
Lloyd Thiel of Clark, meanwhile, said he committed $4,400 from his own pocket while raising another $1,700 from seven donors.
Cathy Marine of Powell similarly reported that she had personally contributed about $4,150 to her campaign while raising $1,475 from 14 donors.
Right behind Marine was Zach Bowman of Cody, who said he’d set aside nearly $4,100 of his own money and received $1,125 from six donors.
Anton Lehman of Powell also indicated his campaign has been mostly self-financed, reporting that he and his wife had contributed about $1,250, with four donors adding another $245.
Richard George, who recently switched his residence to Meeteetse, reported personally putting in $800 while receiving a $100 donation. George has been reusing the signs that he purchased during his unsuccessful run for the commission in 2016, when he spent more than $8,000.
With dozens of individuals and couples giving $11,731.52 to Overfield’s campaign between early April and early August, she reported putting in just $100 of her own money. The only candidate to report a smaller personal investment in the race was retired Wapiti attorney Bob Stevens, who decided to spend just $80 on his commission bid.
There are a number of well-known names among Overfield’s many contributors, including current Commissioners Lee Livingston ($100) and Jake Fulkerson ($100, given with his wife). Overfield also received support from Park County Clerk of District Court Patra Lindenthal ($50, contributed with her husband) and Cody City Councilmembers Stan Wolz and Karen Ballinger ($100 each).
For his part, Tilden received monetary support from fellow commissioners Loren Grosskopf ($200) and Livingston ($200), former Commissioner Gary Lundvall ($100, contributed with his wife), former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson ($200) and state Sen. Hank Coe ($200); Sen. Coe also gave $200 to Bowman’s campaign.
Among Stuart’s contributors, meanwhile, were former Park County Commissioner Dave Burke and his wife, former county treasurer Nena Graham-Burke, who gave $50.
The significance of the campaign contributions remains to be seen, as elections have shown that big spending does not guarantee strong results.
The reports, which were due Tuesday, only lay out how much money the candidates have received and from whom. Candidates don’t have to report how much money they’ve spent or how they spent it until after the election. That post-election report will also include any last-minute contributions.