It’s commonplace for political candidates to bet heavily on themselves, loaning money to their campaign to jumpstart their quest for public office.

This allows candidates to get mailers and ads out early on in campaign season, while donations often don’t flood in until closer to election day.

But there are always a handful of campaigns that are outliers. This year, more than a half-dozen have taken on more than $100,000 in loans, almost all of them from the candidates themselves.

At least one of them have already lost, which will make it extraordinarily difficult for them to raise enough money to pay themselves back.

Here’s a quick breakdown of campaigns with more than $100,000 in loans outstanding. Figures are accurate as of the end of the first quarter 2018.

1) Sam Searcy

Hometown: Holly Springs
: N.C. Senate District 17, Democrat
Debt: $500,000
Still in the race?: Yes
Notes: Why so much? The 40-year-old vodka distillery owner and entrepreneur originally planned to challenge U.S. Rep. George Holding, but wisely backed out of that race (Linda Coleman is the Democratic nominee in that race). But Searcy also gave his campaign $100,000 on April 21, after he entered the state Senate race, with no expectation of repayment.

Sam Searcy

2) N.C. Rep. John Fraley

Hometown: Mooresville
Race: N.C. House District 95
Debt: $160,000
Still in the race?: Yes
Notes: Only $75,000 if that debt is for the current campaign; the rest coming from previous runs for office.

3) Clark Twiddy

Hometown: Kill Devil Hills
Race: N.C. Senate District 1
Debt: $130,000
Still in the race?: No
Notes: Twiddy owns an oceanfront vacation rental business. He lost the Republican primary despite having a large number of endorsements. He had previously said he’d run for lieutenant¬†governor and could still get in that race for 2020, giving him more time to raise money and pay himself back.

Clark Twiddy, center. Photo via Facebook.

4) Rick Foulke

Hometown: Waxhaw
Race: N.C. House District 68, Democrat
Debt: $100,050
Still in the race?: Yes
Notes: The retired doctor did not face opposition in the primary to challenge N.C. Rep. Craig Horn. The campaign so far has been almost entirely self-funded; Foulke’s raised only about $5,000.

5) David Brinkley

Hometown: Kings Mountain
Race: N.C. House District 111
Debt: $100,000
Still in the race?: Yes
Notes: Brinkley, a Democrat, is challenging House Speaker Tim Moore. Brinkley is the only one on this list who didn’t take out a loan from himself. Instead, he got it from Bank of the Ozarks. He’s raised about $14,000 so far from others and did not face a primary.

Other notable loans

  • N.C. Sen. John M. Alexander, Jr. of Raleigh has already paid himself back for a $220,000 loan he gave his re-election campaign in December. He still has $87,750 in loans out.
  • Nancy McFarlane, who won her re-election bid for mayor of Raleigh last year, still owes herself $265,000.
  • N.C. Rep. Duane Hall had loaned his campaign $100,000 in December before allegations of sexual harassment surfaced. He paid himself back in the first quarter before his 42-point smackdown in the Democratic primary.

Cover photo by Sam Searcy for State Senate via Facebook.


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