8th Congressional District finance reports filtering in

NASHVILLE -- The first campaign financial disclosures - to be precise, the press releases summarizing them - from the 8th Congressional District race are arriving today. Thus far, Democrat Roy Herron leads Republican Stephen Fincher in the all-important cash balances in their campaign accounts.

But excluding the $250,000 Herron loaned his campaign, Fincher has raised more campaign cash overall. Fincher launched his campaign last September. Herron switched from a run for governor to the race for Congress in early December when Democratic U.S. Rep. John Tanner of Union City announced he would not seek re-election.

The other two Republicans, Dr. George Flinn of Memphis and Dr. Ron Kirkland of Jackson, had not issued first-quarter fundraising statements as of this afternoon. Nor had independent Donn Janes, who calls himself the tea party candidate.

The details and exact numbers won't be available until the campaigns file their official disclosures with the Federal Election Commission, due by April 15. But campaigns rush to publicize the rounded-off totals in advance of the formal filing as a show of campaign strength.

Herron, the state senator, lawyer and former Methodist minister from Dresden, is reporting raising over $1.1 million, including about $490,000 in the first quarter of the year, and an account balance of "more than $1 million." The fundraising total includes the $250,000 he loaned to his own campaign.

Herron held a fundraiser last week in Dresden hosted by Tanner and his wife, Betty Ann, at which former governor Ned McWherter also spoke.

Fincher, a farmer, small businessman and gospel singer from the Frog Jump community of Crockett County, reported raising "in excess of $1 million" since the campaign began but did not report how much he raised in the January-through-March period. He reported a campaign cash balance of $820,000.

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee that is backing Fincher's candidacy to the exclusion of his GOP rivals, hosted a reception for Fincher in Memphis in February that raised a reported $30,000.

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