published Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Greg Vital put $385,000 into failed Senate bid

NASHVILLE — Chattanooga Republican Greg Vital wound up putting $385,400 of his own money into an ultimately losing August GOP primary battle with fellow GOP candidate Todd Gardenhire, new state filings show.

Vital, a successful health care entrepreneur and developer, reported spending $500,000 over the course of the campaign, according to his third quarter disclosure filed with the Registry of Election Finance.

Efforts Tuesday to contact Vital, who lost the open Senate District 10 race by a heart-stopping 45 votes, were unsuccessful.

As of Tuesday night, Gardenhire had not filed his latest disclosure, which covers the period from July 24 to Sept. 30 and includes final primary spending. The filing deadline is today. Democrat Andraé McGary has yet to file as well.

Up through July 23, Gardenhire reported total receipts of $116,205, including $86,205 in self-made loans, and expenditures of $105,000. The primary was Aug. 2.

According to Vital's latest filing, he self-endorsed loans totaling $334,000 over the course of the campaign, including three loans amounting to $209,000 in the third quarter alone.

Vital's total loans amounted to nearly 69 percent of total receipts of $485,100. The rest came from individual contributors including a host of prominent area businessmen and women.

But in his second quarter filing, Vital reported a personal direct cash infusion of $51,400 among those contributions. That takes his total personal effort to $385,400 or 80 percent of the $485,100 in total contributions.

He reported spending $465,044 and still has another $35,236 in unpaid obligations, producing the $500,280 total spending. His campaign balance was $18,054.57.

In the final days of the GOP primary campaign, Vital reported spending $218,387 much of it going to voter contact through direct mail and phone banking.

The August primary for the redrawn 10th District, which now includes parts of Hamilton and Bradley, became a scorched-earth affair.

Gardenhire lambasted Vital as a "Pinocchio" after news accounts surfaced that Vital exaggerated his educational credentials when he said he graduated from college. Vital attended college but did not graduate.

Then, Gardenhire charged Vital was behind an annonymous mailer that delved into potentially damaging but incomplete information about a failed Gardenhire marriage.

Later, Gardenhire claimed Vital said he had "more money than God" in an attempt to discourage Gardenhire from running.

Vital apologized for his statements about college but denied the other two accusations about the mailer and efforts to deter opponents from entering the race.

The 10th Senate District became an open seat after Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, opted to run instead for mayor of Chattanooga in 2013.

That decision came after the Republican-controlled Legislature made the district lean more Republican by lopping off Marion County and adding chunks of Bradley County to the Hamilton County portion of the seat.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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