ENID, Okla. — With a candidate hailing from Enid this election cycle, the Northwestern Oklahoma city has emerged as a political fundraising hot spot not seen in over a decade for the state’s 3rd Congressional District.
Since beginning his campaign late-January, challenger Wade Burleson has raised more from individual contributions than U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas did during the longtime congressman’s entire last campaign for office, according to Federal Elections Commission campaign finance filings for the first three months of 2022.
Burleson, a retired Enid pastor, also reported 104 out of 168 contributions this quarter came from Enid, far more than Lucas’ 37 Enid-based contributions out of 394 total reported this quarter.
His notable contributions from Enid — often reaching the maximum limit of $2,900 allowed per election — included funds from businessmen, realtors, brokers and developers, pastors, retirees and homemakers.
Lucas’ Enid contributions, also from several prominent business professionals, attorneys, bankers and public officials, make up the most his campaign has reported from Enid in over a decade.
Lucas had received 50 contributions from Enid residents in 2010’s election, followed by 37 the following cycle in 2011-2012.
In 2020’s primary election, Lucas received only one campaign contribution from an Enid resident — Dr. David Russell, who donated $1,000 in July 2019. The election before that, only Enid resident Dr. Tim Fagan contributed $500 to Lucas’ primary race.
2020’s primary election for the 3rd District was canceled, while Lucas drew no Republican challengers in 2018, according to Ballotpedia.
Lucas, who has held office since 1994, still has also out-raised his Republican primary challenger this time around.
According to FEC filings, while Burleson’s campaign reported $165,000 in contributions solely from individuals — including nearly $11,000 from himself — Lucas’ campaign raised $611,210 in total contributions from Jan. 1 through March 31.
Burleson’s campaign, in a statement to the News & Eagle last week, attributed Lucas’ fundraising increase to more active campaigning because he recognizes he has a “strong opponent.”
Burleson’s deputy campaign director, Melissa Crabtree, pointed out that 161 of his 168 total donations were also from Oklahoma residents, according to the FEC.
“Everywhere we go, people are telling us that 28 years (Lucas’ time in office) is too long and that Frank Lucas is out of touch, demonstrated by his voting record,” Crabtree said. “It’s time for a change, and Oklahoma donors are putting their money where their mouth is.”
Lucas’ campaign manager, Evan Handy, did not respond to several requests for comment about his candidate’s quarterly fundraising report.
The incumbent candidate has accrued $310,810 from individual donations and an additional $300,000 from political action committees (PACs).
Burleson’s dozens of donors include several notable figures in business, real estate and politics around Enid and Garfield County, or with ties to the area.
Lucas has received 125 PAC contributions this quarter, with five from Oklahoma-based groups.
Lucas also received six contributions, totaling $4,000, earmarked through the PACs WinRed and Votesane.
Crabtree said the Burleson campaign is not taking donations from PACs.
“We’ve been too busy spending time with Oklahomans,” she said.
The two men, along with newly registered candidate Yukon businessman Stephen Butler, will be on the primary ballot for Republican voters on June 28. The winner will face Democrat Jeremiah Ross, of Bristow, in November’s general election.
(State Rep. Sean Roberts, who had filed in January as a GOP candidate for the congressional seat with the Federal Elections Commission, suspended his campaign for the seat before filing to run for the state’s labor commissioner in mid-April.)
Lucas’ campaign has reported just over $900,000 in overall contributions this election cycle, with $611,000 — along with most of his nearly 200 Oklahoma donors — raised during the first three months of 2022.
Now, with eight months of 2022’s two-year election cycle left, Lucas has out-raised both previous reelection campaigns in contributions from private individuals.
Individuals have donated $429,000 total since Jan. 1, 2021, with PACs contributing another $472,000, in a more even spread between the two funding sources than in recent years.
Much of the $879,000 he had raised in 2020’s election came from PAC contributions, with $130,000 coming from individual donations. He received $1.08 million for his 2018 campaign, but only $145,000 were from individuals.
Many from Enid and Garfield County who contributed this quarter to Frank Lucas’ campaign in the first quarter of 2022 are longtime donors. The…
Different expense prioritiesMost of Lucas’ campaign expenses have gone toward third-party consultant and management groups rather than active travel campaigning.
His campaign spent about $122,000 this quarter, adding to a total $434,000-plus spent during the entire campaign cycle. He now has $804,801.72 remaining.
Two payments of $10,000 each went to Push Digital for online advertising, and another $5,500 went to Prosper Group for the same.
Lucas has paid total $11,587.70 in four payments to Evan Handy’s Oklahoma City-based campaign management/consultant company, South Creek Group.
Another $16,000 went to Kansas City-based Ethos Advisors LLC for fundraising/consulting this quarter. The group had been paid since July last year.
Lucas also paid $4,000 for Cole, Hargrave & Snodgrass, a conservative Oklahoma City polling company, to conduct a phone survey in February.
Nearly 20 expenses for food and dining cost the campaign roughly $10,380 total at restaurants such as Capitol Hill Club, Agua 301 and Charlie Palmer Steak, as well as caterers.
Restaurants in Oklahoma included Broadway 10 Chophouse, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse and Vast, all in Oklahoma City, as well as the Brucnh Club in Norman and the Hutch on Avondale in Nichols Hills.
The campaign paid Lucas’ campaign treasurer, Susan Balkenbush, three monthly payments totaling $10,169.
Most of Burleson’s campaign expenses, meanwhile, have gone toward marketing and travel.
The campaign now has $118,689.38 cash on hand, having spent $45,660.09 on campaign expenses — with most toward marketing materials such as signs, advertising and paraphernalia like hats, buttons and T-shirts.
Yard and street signs from Oldham Sign Shop, of Bristow, cost over $8,000, while T-shirts from Enid-based Refuge T-Shirt Co. cost just over $3,000. Enid company PDQ Printing was paid over $3,000 for items like envelopes, pamphlets and a retractable banner.
The former Enid pastor has personally traveled to campaign in over 35 towns and cities in the 3rd District, Crabtree said.
Burleson’s campaign reimbursed him $4,920.64 for travel and meal expenses this quarter and another $2,000 combined to three campaign volunteers for mileage, advertising and events.
Lucas’ travel expenses, though, have been kept at a minimum for the campaign. Lucas was reimbursed twice this quarter for travel expenses, for around $650 and $190 in January, along with several double-digit Lyft trips. Two airfare for campaigning cost nearly $1,200 total for two trips on American Airlines in January and March.
Crabtree received received $1,999 for two months of contract labor in February and March and $254.64 for office supplies. The campaign has leased office space from Messer Bowers, an Enid insurance company, for $1,500 a month since February.