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Rich gets richer

Ashley Rich closes money gap
in GOP DA race with Mark Erwin

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Ashley Rich narrowed the money gap smartly in her contest with Mark Erwin for the GOP nomination for Mobile County District attorney, according to campaign financial records.

RIch reported contributions totaling $90,895 for the period. Erwin raised $70,290 for the same reporting period. Erwin, who entered the race well ahead of the assistant district attorney, began the stage with a balance of almost $35,000.

With less than six weeks to go before their match-up in the June 1 primary, Erwin, a former chairman of the Mobile County Republican Party and municipal judge for Saraland, had an ending balance of $82,808.91 while Rich showed $61,306.15.

Erwin announced his campaign last fall while Rich, also a member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee, waited on her boss, veteran Democratic politician and longtime Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. to decide whether or not to seek re-election to the office he has held since 1994. In 1996, Tyson hired Rich who now heads the office's murder team.

Ultimately, Tyson backed away from a re-election bid and accepted an appointment from GOP Gov. Bob Riley as head of the governor's anti-illegal bingo task force. Over the years in Mobile County, a number of controversial investigations and prosecutions with political implications seemed to sap Tyson's political strength, both among his Democratic base as well as independents who enabled him to be the only Mobile County Democrat to hold a non-judicial, countywide elective office. Three local circuit judges still hold their positions as Democrats. 

Former U.S. Attorney Don Foster qualified to run as a Democrat in the district attorney's race in the general election in November. Foster served for six years in the administrations of President Bill Clinton.

Tyson, who remains a Democrat as of Wednesday, April 21, was (along with his wife, Beth) one of the larger contributors to his underling's campaign at $2,000.

Other contributions had unusual wrinkles: former City Councilman Bess Rich (no relation) and businessman Elliot Maisel contributed to both campaigns. Ex-Mayor Mike Dow backed Erwin with a $1,000 contribution while Dow's partner and brother-in-law Jim Busby gave Rich $500. Plaintiff law firm Cunningham Bounds gave Erwin $2,500 which was offset by associate Greg Breedlove's $2,500 donation to Rich.

Among Rich's supporters were:

Contributors to DA PAC which passed along almost all of its receipts to Rich included:

Erwin's contributors for the disclosure period include:


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