August 22, 2014 10:36:45 AM
Golden Triangle residents contributed almost $70,000 to this year's hotly contested campaign between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel in the Republican primary and run-off for Senate.
Columbus, Starkville and West Point donated a combined $52,199 to the Cochran campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data. A total of $17,119 was donated to McDaniel.
Certified results show Cochran defeated McDaniel by 7,667 votes in the race's runoff. The runoff took place three weeks after McDaniel led a three-person primary by 1,418 votes. The tea party-backed McDaniels claims there were thousands of voting irregularities, but Cochran's attorneys say the six-term incumbent won fairly.
McDaniel filed a lawsuit last week, asking a judge to either declare him the winner, or order a new election. A trial is set to begin Sept. 15.
Out of everyone in the Golden Triangle, Columbus businessman Jabari Edwards contributed the most to Cochran's campaign, giving $5,000 in two installments.
The top McDanial donor was Elaine Vechorik of Sturgis. FEC data states she donated $7,799 in three payments to the challenger.
Other Cochran donations from Columbus of at least $2,000 came from attorney Wil Colom ($2,600), William Ford ($2,400), Nutie Dowdle and John King. Mark Castleberry, a local developer and member of multiple public boards, donated $1,000 to Cochran. All told, 18 Columbus residents gave to Cochran's campaign.
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, a former chief of staff for Cochran, donated $1,000 to the six-term senator's campaign, as did his wife, Rhonda.
Donations from Starkville of $2,000 or more came from Marty Fuller, who contributed $3,200 over four installments, former Cadence Bank CEO Lewis Mallory, who gave $3,000 over two payments, and Albert Clark ($2,600).
Southern Ionics President and CEO Milton Sundbeck of West Point donated $2,599 to Cochran.
David Van Every was the only listed donor of more than $1,000 to McDaniel's campaign from Columbus. No one from Starkville is listed as donating more than $400 to McDaniel. There were no contributions to McDaniel from West Point listed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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