CROWN POINT | Maybe it's the uniform, but Lake County Sheriff John Buncich is the most attractive candidate on the ballot to political donors.
The county's top cop has raised nearly $61,000 in the first three and a half months of this year in his re-election bid, according to a campaign finance report he filed this week with the Lake County elections board.
That is more than double the combined amount his two other Democratic opponents. Richard Ligon raised about $22,000 and County Police Sgt. Oscar Martinez Jr. nearly $6,000 according to their reports.
In fact, the race for sheriff in the May 6 Democratic primary is the premier dollar match-up among more than 20 major primary contests examined by The Times.
Buncich has spent $56,000, the most of any candidate this spring. Ligon's campaign consumed about $12,000 and Martinez's $9,000.
Buncich was still holding about $14,000 in cash, a reserve that dwarfs the war chests of Ligon who has $10,000 and Martinez $1.40 for the remaining two weeks, unless they can raise more.
Overall, Democratic candidates belong to the richer party. They started off with a combined $106,000 on New Year's Day and collected and spent another $294,000. Their GOP counterparts couldn't find a fourteenth of that amount.
In many Democratic races, incumbent elected officials remain proven fund raisers, to the disadvantage of their challengers.
County Clerk Mike A. Brown's re-election campaign raised and spent about $5,100. His opponent, Josefina Magallanes has only $605 and has spent all but $124.
Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin has raised about $73,000, spent $27,000 and still has more than $46,000 on hand. Her opponent, Gary City Councilwoman Kimberly "Kim" Robinson has raised and spent nearly $19,900. She has $2,500 left.
Ross Township Trustee Joe Shudick has raised and spent more than double the amount his opponent, Ronald P. "Ron" Dudley.
There is no incumbent in the Democratic race for county assessor among Jerome Prince, Michael Troxell and Jesus L. Ortiz Jr. Prince has raised about $31,000, spent $20,000 and still holds $15,000. Troxell has raised about $13,000, spent $12,00 and holds $2,000. Ortiz's campaign reported having no money.
In other races, County Councilwomen Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, and Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, reported having more money their opponents.
Councilman David Hamm, D-Hammond, reported raising $2,200 and spending $971. There was no finance report available in the elections board database for his Democratic opponent, Antonio Daggett Sr., who told The Times he has raised approximately $2,400 and spent about $1,700.
In the race for Lake County Council 3rd District, Ron Matlock, a Calumet Township Board member, has raised and spent about $23,000. His opponent, Jamal Washington has raised and spent about $14,000.
In Republican races, County Policeman Dan Bursac has raised nearly $4,000 and spent $6,000 in his bid to become the GOP nominee for county sheriff. His opponent, John Ramos Jr., raised about $2,000 and spent $2,500.
Republican Catherine Campbell reported raising $1,000 and spending all but $278. Her opponent, Eugene S. Rhymer, raised $150 and spent all but $21.
St. John Township Trustee Jean E. Shepherd has raised and spent $600 for re-election. Her opponent, Daniel C. Langmesser, reported no money.
Winfield Township Trustee Roland "Rollie" Brauer Jr. reported raising only $50 and spent $15 in his bid for another term. His opponent, Winfield Town Councilwoman Paulette Skinner, reported raising $3,000. He still holds most of it in reserve.
Dyer Town Councilwoman Debbie Astor reports raising and spending almost double her Republican opponent Jethroe Smith.