By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
Campaign finance documents filed this week show that Bell County sheriff candidate Bob Patterson has spent nearly double that of his opponents.
Quarterly reports indicate Patterson has raised more than $20,000 since July and spent more than $22,000 on advertising, fundraising events and printing.
The sheriff's race has been one of the more hotly contested races since Sheriff Dan Smith Jr. announced last year that he would retire after 28 years of service. Precinct 1 Constable Luis Cortez, Precinct 3 County Commissioner Eddy Lange and Keith Lee also are running for the position.
All four candidates filed as Republicans. The party primary election has tentatively been set for April 3, pending the resolution of redistricting fights in federal court.
Patterson's largest expenditure was for billboard advertisements, according to filing paperwork. He paid Lamar Advertising $13,000 for billboards seen across Bell County since early December. The vice president of Lamar Advertising made a $200 contribution to Patterson's campaign.
Patterson's campaign donated $325 to Belton Future Farmers of America, the Open Arms Ministry food pantry and the Armed Forces YMCA. His campaign also spent $425 on golf.
Patterson's contributions come from in and around Bell County. He received a $500 donation from Smith, who endorsed Patterson when he announced his candidacy in September. Patterson also loaned $5,000 from his personal finances to his campaign, reports showed.
Cortez has spent about $6,000 on his campaign. Lange spent about $5,600. Lee did not file any finance reports. Candidates who do not raise or spend more than $500 are not required to file, according to state law.
Lange has raised $7,666 since he began fundraising in December. Cortez raised $3,520.
Cortez's campaign has taken out a $6,000 loan with Bank of America to pay for most of his expenses. Lange has not made any loans to his campaign.
County attorney race
The only other county race approaching the level of fundraising seen in the sheriff's race is the campaign for county attorney. Rick Miller is retiring after 20 years, leaving the seat up for grabs.
Bobby Barina, a local defense attorney, gave his campaign $14,800 from his personal finances. He has raised $18,050, reports showed.
Assistant County Attorney Jim Nichols has raised $8,700, including $500 from the county attorney and $6,500 from 18 local attorneys and two law firms.
Expenditures in that race have been light. Including the $1,250 filing fee, Barina's campaign only spent $1,400. Nichols' campaign spent $2,475. Both filed as Republicans.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.