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Orr-Day campaign among most costly Senate races

By M.J. Ellington (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Even at $720,000 in cash expenses, the 2006 Senate race between Arthur Orr and Bobby Day was not the most expensive in the state, but that's not the whole story.

Add in almost $457,000 in non-monetary contributions for advertising, polling and political consultation, and the price tops $1.17 million, making the Senate District 5 race one of the most expensive state Senate races in Alabama last year.

In annual reports due this week at the secretary of state's office, Senate District 5 winner Orr, R-Decatur, reported more than $681,000 in expenditures and almost $48,000 in non-monetary, in-kind contributions. The report for Day, D-Decatur, listed almost a reverse of Orr's report, with $38,000 in expenditures and $409,000 for in-kind contributions.

Heavy spenders

Candidates have until Wednesday to file campaign
finance reports, but among other candidates who submitted their paperwork, Orr and Day's expenses are less than those of at least two other Senate winners, Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, and Jim Preuitt, D-Talladega.

Griffith, a retired oncologist and former candidate for mayor of Huntsville, spent more than $761,000.

Car dealer Preuitt, who grew up at Danville, spent almost $847,000 on his campaign. Of that amount, more than $375,000 went for expenses in Preuitt's Democratic primary race against former Talladega Mayor Larry Barton, who served time in federal prison.

Barton received heavy support from former Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron, whom Preuitt said tried to defeat him.

That race played heavily into the reorganization of the Senate. Barron lost his leadership position, but maintains his power through key posts held by Senate allies.

Preuitt lost his effort to create a more bipartisan Senate and the chairmanship of Rules, the committee that determines which legislation will be heard.

Special interests

The types of contributions were an issue during the Orr-Day campaign. Orr charged that Day's in-kind advertising and political consulting funded through two political action committees obligated him to the wishes of a small but powerful group of Senate Democrats. Day countered that it is becoming harder for a candidate who is not wealthy to finance a campaign without such help.


In Orr's annual campaign report, he listed about $145,600 in contributions since the end of October, including $124,500 from PACs and the Alabama Republican Party.

Orr's largest PAC contributions included $25,000 from Alabama Farmer's Federation PAC; $24,000 from three PACs operated by Decatur attorney Barney Lovelace; $24,000 from the New Alabama Leadership Committee, a Montgomery PAC chaired by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, to elect new Republican leadership in the Senate; and $12,000 from Progress PAC of the Business Council of Alabama.

Also $8,000 from DSA PAC (DESA), chaired by Republican operative Dax Swatek; $5,000 from the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers PAC; $2,500 from SEA-PAC of the Alabama State Employees Association; and $1,000 from EDPAC operated by lobbyists Joe Fine and Bob Geddie.

Orr also received $2,000 from The Commonwealth PAC of Alabama, one of several PACs organized by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a possible Republican presidential contender in 2008.

In Day's final report for the year, he reported contributions including $1,000 each from BIZPAC, one of several PACs organized by former Business Council of Alabama President E. Clark Richardson; and Alabama AFL-CIO employee PAC.

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