- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Embattled state treasurer Chip Flowers has loaned his campaign about a quarter of a million dollars this year amid a hotly contested re-election campaign.

In a campaign finance report submitted late Tuesday, Flowers reported raising only $3,400 from donors since January, but he loaned his campaign more than $242,000, including $110,000 last week.

Flowers reported about $92,000 in expenditures and $118,000 in repayments of previous campaign loans, leaving him with about $157,000 cash on hand and an outstanding loan balance of $653,000.

“This primary is personal to me, and I want to send a signal that I won’t be intimidated,” Flowers said Wednesday when asked about the most recent loans to his campaign.

Flowers, who has feuded with other members of the state’s cash management board over the powers of his office and has come under scrutiny for travel expenditures by him and his former deputy, says he’s being targeted by the Democratic establishment. He faces a primary challenge from Sean Barney, a former policy director for Gov. Jack Markell who also served as a senior aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Carper.

“I’m not going to ask the public to pay for this ridiculousness,” Flowers said about his lack of political donors. “This is personal. I want Sean Barney to know it and I want the establishment to know it.”

Barney reported raising about $150,000 this year, including $24,000 in personal loans to his campaign. Barney’s expenditures totaled about $78,000, leaving him with about $71,000.

“I’m extremely gratified by the support we have received,” said Barney, who brushed off Flowers’ characterization of the race.

“Mr. Flowers takes everything personally, which is why he has long history of attacking anyone who disagrees with him,” Barney said. “Delawareans are tired of Mr. Flowers’ antics.”

Democratic Party leaders have declined to make an endorsement in the primary, but Flowers, the only statewide, black elected official in Delaware, recently picked up the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, as the two Democrats have traded barbs, Republican Ken Simpler, a former hedge fund executive and political newcomer, quietly raised about $183,000 this year. Simpler also loaned his campaign $130,000, and spent about $175,000, ending the reporting period with $140,000, twice as much as Barney.

“Obviously, we did better than the others. That’s just math,” said Simpler, who is chief financial officer for a hotel management company.

“I find that people wanting to support you is a positive thing…. It signals there’s a breadth of support behind you, rather than just personal ambition,” he added.

Simpler said voter registration numbers that heavily favor Democrats mean Republican candidates have to work harder, doubly so for a first-time candidate like himself running for statewide office.

“You have to have the means to communicate your message, and ultimately that boils down to spending money,” he said.

Simpler’s opponent in the GOP primary, Sher Valenzuela, didn’t enter the race until the final filing day. Valenzuela, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor two years ago, reported raising only about $5,000. She loaned her campaign about $25,000 just before the end of the reporting period, leaving her with about $45,000 on hand.

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