Monday, July 08, 2024

Courtney Johnston builds fundraising war chest

Courtney Johnston
Axios Nashville, July 8, 2024- Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston raked in $715,000 in the last three months to fuel her Republican primary challenge of U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, her campaign tells Axios.

Why it matters: The race is a political rarity for a Republican primary: an incumbent backed by former President Trump facing a legitimate, well-financed challenger.

The big picture: Johnston's fundraising haul this quarter shows there's an appetite to get rid of Ogles, the freshman House member who's been embroiled in controversy.

By the numbers: Johnston now has over $500,000 cash on hand to bankroll her campaign for the stretch run. In addition to her own fundraising efforts, an outside group called Conservatives With Character has been airing anti-Ogles television ads for about the last two weeks.

Ogles, meanwhile, is playing catch-up on the fundraising front. For much of his tenure, he disclosed a $300,000 personal loan to his campaign. Earlier this year, he amended 11 disclosures to remove the loan after becoming the subject of an ethics complaint.

After those changes, he reported just over $95,000 cash on hand. The Tennessean reported last week that Ogles' re-election effort relies on the Americans for Prosperity political group for financial support.

State of play: Trump expressed his support for Ogles last year, but that was before Johnston entered the race.

Johnston has earned the admiration of Nashville's business community during her five years on the Metro Council. Some of the city's most prominent business leaders back her campaign.

Between the lines: The race is also colored by the fact that this is just the second election in the newly drawn District 5, which represents a large portion of Nashville where Johnston lives.

Nashville, previously a single House district and Democratic stronghold, is now divided into three House districts where Republicans have large advantages.

As a result, none of Nashville's three representatives live in the city.

Reality check: Ogles still enjoys support from Republican leaders.

In addition to Trump, eight Republican state lawmakers endorsed Ogles' campaign. Johnston touted Ogles' work to address "border security, government accountability and inflation" to the conservative Tennessee Star outlet.

Election Day for the Republican primary is Aug. 1. Early voting begins July 12.

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