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Sheriff filling campaign coffers

So far, he is running unopposed. But Sheriff Jeff Dawsy has collected more than $30,000 for his re-election campaign.

Sheriff Jeff Dawsy has yet to attract an opponent for his re-election bid and, by the looks of it, he's trying to keep it that way.

Dawsy already has amassed a campaign war chest of $32,449 in cash and in-kind contributions, though no one else has so much as formed an exploratory campaign office.

Dawsy may have learned something from former Sheriff Charles Dean, though the two have markedly different styles as top cops.

Dean historically raked in the contributions through large fundraising parties, even in years when he attracted little more than token opposition.

Attempts to reach Dawsy on Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Dawsy was the first candidate to file for the 2000 election, when he submitted his papers to establish a campaign office in July of last year.

In many ways, he has been campaigning since he took office a little more than three years ago.

The sheriff appears to accept almost any invitation to address civic groups.

After being elected, he created a way to give ordinary residents a close, inside look at how the sheriff's office operates.

The Citizen's Academy to date has had more than 350 graduates, with two more classes running now.

The graduates come away with a deeper appreciation of the sheriff's office, and perhaps a feeling of alliance with the Dawsy team.

In Dawsy's most recent campaign finance report, which runs through the end of 1999, the list is dominated by business owners and development interests.

It is also sprinkled with a few top officers within the agency.

Among the contributions is $500 from longtime Republican party activist Kennedy Smith Jr., a self-employed auto dealer. Dawsy is a Democrat.

There are more contributors of less than $100 than there are people who contributed more than $100. Much of the money appears to have been raised during a November fundraiser.

During his last run for office, it took Dawsy until July to raise $40,000 in a race thick with candidates in the Democratic party alone.

The first primary this year will be held Sept. 5.

If there are three or more candidates in a race and none of the hopefuls get more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held Oct. 3.

The general election will be held Nov. 7.