Tennessee Campaign Contributions Lag Behind Battleground States

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(Memphis) It's no secret money and politics go hand-in-hand.

Otis Sanford is a political commentator at WREG-TV, "A colleague of mine at the paper used to say money is the mother's milk of politics."

Across the country, billions of dollars are pouring into political races, as individuals and special-interest groups hope their price is right in helping their candidates win elections.

Lang Wiseman, a former Shelby County Republican Party Chairman and political analyst, said, "It gets the donor invested into the process, invested into the campaign, you get invested into the issues."

In Tennessee, campaign contributions are just above seven million dollars this year.

But according to the Center for Responsible Politics' website, there is a who's who of campaign big spenders in Memphis.

FedEx founder Fred Smith and his wife, Diane, donated $160,000 to the Republican Party, Autozone founder 'Pitt' Hyde and his wife, Barbara, gave $85,000-thousand dollars to the GOP, and real estate developer Henry Turley donated $13,000 to both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Political observers say there are different reasons large and small donors get involved.

"I think the people contributing the $100, $500, $1,000, $5,000, or $25,000, those folks believe in the candidate and they believe in good government," Sanford said.

In regards to Tennessee's campaign contributions, they could be perceived as a small amount when compared to key battleground states.

Here's a breakdown of some other states: North Carolina donors have given $11 million, Georgia contributed $15 million, Florida collected $37 million and Texas donor have come up with $52 million dollars going to campaign contributions.

"I think for all the bad press that campaign donors get and money is involved in the process, I think that most people who donate money just want to make a difference."