091104 West Point -- West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV (left), also a dentist, chats with patient Margaret Cathey (right) after an exam Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Ferguson says the plant has revitalized the town. 
Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com
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091104 West Point -- West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV (left), also a dentist, chats with patient Margaret Cathey (right) after an exam Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Ferguson says the plant has revitalized the town. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

Smile! Dentists help Third District candidate win fundraising race

091104 West Point -- West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV (left), also a dentist, chats with patient Margaret Cathey (right) after an exam Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Ferguson says the plant has revitalized the town. 
Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com
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091104 West Point -- West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV (left), also a dentist, chats with patient Margaret Cathey (right) after an exam Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Ferguson says the plant has revitalized the town. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com
091104 West Point -- West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV (left), also a dentist, chats with patient Margaret Cathey (right) after an exam Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Ferguson says the plant has revitalized the town. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

Drew Ferguson in 2009. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

WASHINGTON – It may come as a surprise that the candidate with the largest fundraising haul in Georgia’s Third Congressional District last quarter was the man whose campaign bio features him in blue scrubs in front of a dental light.

Just as interesting is that a sizable chunk of Drew Ferguson’s campaign donations between January 1 and March 31 also came from fellow dentists.

Federal campaign filings show that roughly six dozen individual dentists from Macon to Flagstaff, Ariz., helped contribute to Ferguson’s total fundraising haul of $215,635 for the quarter. Another $13,000, or 6 percent, came from the American Dental Association’s political action committee.

The dentists helped give Ferguson, the former mayor of West Point, the highest first quarter fundraising tally in the crowded race to succeed Lynn Westmoreland.

Ferguson trounced two of the other big names in the Republican primary, Mike Crane and Jim Pace, whose campaign committees respectively brought in $93,520 and $121,990 in contributions, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.

Ferguson, however, is far behind Pace in terms of cash on hand at the start of the second quarter (roughly $120,000 to $330,000). That’s mainly attributable to the fact that Pace, a wealthy businessman who developed Fayetteville’s Pinewood Studios, put $250,000 of his own money into his campaign. How Pace spends that money will certainly be something to watch as the May 24th primary approaches.

Crane currently sits far behind Pace and Ferguson with about $77,000 in his war chest.

As for the bevy of dentists contributing to Ferguson’s campaign, the Sunlight Foundation’s Joshua Stewart said it’s a common phenomenon in congressional races, particularly in fields with a strong professional identity such as dentistry or medicine.

“People want to support someone who’s similar to them, who has similar values and is interested in similar things and then also can also be an advocate for them,” he said.


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