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Candidates raise, spend in District 9 campaign
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Forsyth County News

When Steve Gooch began his race for state House, he had no money other than the $20,000 he loaned his campaign.

To date, campaign disclosure reports show he has raised an additional $50,000, for a total of about $70,100. That is about $2,600 less than his opponent, incumbent District 9 state Rep. Amos Amerson.

"I put my own money into this race because I feel that strongly that we need change," Gooch said. "That's a commitment I made to myself."

The District 9 seat represents parts of Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties. It is the only contested race among Forsyth County's five state legislative posts.

The recent campaign disclosure filings, obtained from the state ethics commission, cover the period from April 1-June 30.

Both Amerson and Gooch are Republicans, so Tuesday's primary will decide the contest.

Gooch, chairman of the Lumpkin County commission, still has about $49,400 on hand, more than triple Amerson's balance of less than $14,700.

Though Amerson has less cash on hand, he paid for his campaign in full.

"We spent about a day and we laid out a plan of what mailouts would go out and when," he said. "In doing that, I knew how much money it was going to take.

"It's not the money so much as how you use it. There just has to be some minimum you raise in order to try to be at the same level of competitiveness."

Among Gooch's donors are several farmers, business owners, retired citizens and Dawson and Lumpkin county officials and employees, including $500 from Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner and $150 from Lumpkin County Manager Stan Kelley. Dahlonega Mayor Gary McCullough and Councilman Michael Clemmons each donated $500, reports show.

Nearly half of Amerson's 94 donors, were from fellow state representatives, including $1,500 from District 24 state Rep. Tom Knox of Cumming and $1,000 from District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton.

About a dozen donations were from political action committees and many others came from large, national companies like AFLAC, Anheuser-Busch and Southeast Toyota Distributors.