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Bowerbank Lacks Donors But Has Cash

Tim Craig

Jon Bowerbank, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, is almost completely self-funding his 2009 campaign, including putting up $100,000 of his own money on the last day of the reporting period.

In campaign finance reports filed earlier this month, Bowerbank revealed he has only one reportable cash donor, even though he has about $108,000 in the bank.

Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, made a $5,000 contribution to his campaign on May 14, just before he announced his candidacy. A week later, Bowerbank donated $50,000 to his campaign.

Bowerbank, founder and CEO of EMATS Inc. engineering firm, threw another $15,000 behind his campaign on June 26. Four days later, just hours before the end the of the fundraising period, Bowerbank wrote his campaign the $100,000 check, according to the State Board of Elections. Bowerbank also made $51,000 of in-kind contributions to his campaign.

So who is Bowerbank's only reportable donor? Carl Hale, the vice-president of his company, who gave $100 on May 20, according to the board of elections. (Bowerbank also has one donor he did not have to identify because they gave less than $100.)

In a little less than two months, Bowerbank spent more than $100,000 of his personal wealth to try to win a job that pays $36,000 a year.

"Needless to say, I am very pleased at this great start to what I fully expect to be an extraordinarily well-funded - and ultimately victorious - campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2009," Bowerbank said in a statement when he announced his fundraising numbers, although he failed to mention most of it came from his pocket.

Bowerbank may face Finance Secretary Jody W. Wagner in the race for the Democratic nomination. In her unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2000, Wagner raised $1.1 million. If she runs for lieutenant governor, Wagner may also be able to tap into Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) considerable fundraising network.

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2008; 5:26 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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