Campaign contributions don’t guarantee victory, political analyst says

By Staff

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) – Early voting is underway in the Shelby County mayoral primary.

Money is important in a political race, but analysts say it’s not always a predictor of who will win a race.

“It’s almost like a poker game, it tells you who has enough money to sit down at the table,” said Rhodes College political science professor Mike Nelson.

Nelson said the finances of a campaign are crucial, and more contributions can signal more support. The key to actually winning the election, though, is driving turnout.

“If people donate to your campaign even if it’s $10, it means they feel a stake in your winning,” Nelson said. “In a low-turnout election, it all depends on who shows up.”

WMC5 pulled the most recent campaign finance reports for all five candidates seeking the office of Shelby County Mayor.

Republican David Lenoir has almost $244,000 on hand and received more than $100,000 in contributions in the last reporting period.

Republican Joy Touliatos has almost $158,000 on hand, with about $21,000 in contributions.

Republican Terry Roland has roughly $36,000 on hand and more than $45,000 in contributions.

On the Democratic side, Lee Harris has about $93,000 on hand with more than $25,000 in contributions.

Democrat Sidney Chaim’s campaign had not filed the disclosure due earlier this month according to the election commission. However, his year-end filing in 2017 indicated roughly $8,000 on hand with $7,600 in contributions.

“When it comes to money, you need enough to be able to run a campaign,” Nelson said. “But the fact that you have more money than someone else isn’t going to decide the election, it’s going to be how do you translate that money.”

The primary is May 1, and the general election for county mayor is on August 2

The Shelby County Election Commission said another round of financial disclosures is due to be filed Tuesday.