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.
1. Mississippi menagerie: Steens resident converts old home into public attraction COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Juneteenth festival marches on COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY