SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • Jason Plummer, the Metro East Republican lumber heir who has touted his business acumen and fiscal responsibility in his quest for a U.S. House seat, is going into the general election season with his campaign more than $130,000 in debt and less than half that much in cash available, according to federal campaign records.
Plummer’s Democratic opponent, Brad Harriman, had more than $200,700 cash on hand in the same period of the records.
Plummer and Harriman emerged from the March 20 primaries as the major party nominees for the new 12th Congressional district that includes St. Clair, Monroe and part of Madison counties. They will face off in the Nov. 6 general election for the seat, which is being vacated by incumbent Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville.
The Federal Election Commission records show that the campaign fund of Plummer, 29, of O’Fallon, had $137,422 in outstanding campaign debt as of the end of March, about two weeks after the primary elections. The campaign had $55,861 in cash on hand at that time, the records show.
About $44,000 of that debt is owed to Plummer himself, for personal expenditures on behalf of the campaign and a $10,000 loan. Most of the rest is owed to other entities for professional consulting services, polling, postage and other campaign activities.
Campaign debt isn’t unusual after elections like the March 20 primary, and it is often repaid in the normal course of subsequent fundraising. But Plummer, whose family owns the RP Lumber Co. chain, has positioned himself as a fiscally responsible conservative who will bring personal business experience to the job.
“It appears that (Plummer) doesn’t know too much about sticking to a budget and instead he is using the same failed economic model as Washington, D.C., to mismanage his campaign: spend more than you have,” Harriman’s campaign said in a written statement.
A Plummer campaign spokesman declined to immediately comment on the data Wednesday afternoon.
Plummer, who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010, raised $250,000 through March 31, including significant donations from RP Lumber owners.
Harriman, the former St. Clair County regional schools superintendent, raised $370,341 during that time, records show, much of it from labor interests. Among the donations was $4,000 from Costello’s campaign committee.