Jul 26, 2022 - Politics

Tennessee's District 5 GOP primary is anyone's game

Illustration of a ballot box and question mark sticker.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A sense of uncertainty hangs over next week's Republican primary for the District 5 congressional seat. Insiders say any of the top three candidates could win.

Why it matters: GOP contenders enter the race's closing stretch with hundreds of thousands of dollars on hand to finance their campaigns. Whoever wins will be considered the favorite in the November general election.

State of play: Former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell entered the race with a distinct advantage in name recognition. She reported $380,300 cash on hand for the final weeks of the campaign.

  • Harwell has tried to preemptively defang suggestions that she's a moderate through staunchly conservative messaging. One ad showed her at the Mexican border vowing to finish construction of former President Trump's long-sought wall.

Attorney and former National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead has the most cash on hand for the race's closing stretch. He reported $407,785 in his account after raising $2.12 million, including loans, during the campaign.

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles' congressional campaign told media outlets in May it had raised $453,000 in its first 30 days. But its first disclosure shows the actual total was $247,087 for the period ending June 30.

  • Ogles finished the period with $283,338 on hand for the race's closing stretch.
  • While his campaign hasn't quite kept up with Winstead or Harwell in fundraising, he has benefited from the support of conservative political action committees. Main Street Nashville reports PACS have spent $400,000 on ads backing Ogles.
  • Ogles' campaign did not respond to a question about the discrepancy between his touted fundraising numbers and the lower figures reported to the Federal Election Commission.

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