Democratic County Commission candidate Portillo amasses significant financial advantage over Republican opponent McDermott

photo by: Contributed photos

Republican candidate Pam McDermott, left, and Democratic candidate Shannon Portillo, right, will face off in the Nov. 3 general election to serve on the Douglas County Commission as the 3rd District representative.

A Democrat running for a Douglas County Commission seat traditionally held by Republicans has a steep financial advantage over her opponent.

Shannon Portillo, a Democrat running for the County Commission’s 3rd District seat, reported raising about 10 times more money than her Republican opponent, Pam McDermott, for the upcoming general election.

Portillo, a University of Kansas associate professor and administrator, and McDermott, community life director at Morning Star Church, both filed reports with the clerk’s office that were due on Oct. 26.

Here’s how the two campaigns reported their financial standings a week prior to the Nov. 3 election:

Shannon Portillo, Democrat:

• Cash on hand at the beginning of the reporting period: $3,489.93

• Total contributions and other receipts: $7,705.22

• Total expenditures and other disbursements: $8,074.20

• Cash on hand at close of the period: $3,120.95

Pam McDermott, Republican:

• Cash on hand at the beginning of the reporting period: $218.76

• Total contributions and other receipts: $770.15

• Total expenditures and other disbursements: $850.94

• Cash on hand at close of the period: $137.97

Portillo’s financial advantage appears to come from the many donations she received from residents. The report shows Portillo received more than 50 donations from residents with values between $10 and $500. She also received 11 donations from people outside of the county. Portillo herself was her largest single donor, donating $1,500 to her own campaign.

McDermott received four donations, two of which came from donors who live outside of the county. One was a $208 donation from a nurse in Oklahoma, and the other was a $259 donation from Ryan Baty, of Maize. Baty, who provided McDermott’s largest donation, is listed as the owner of The Mattress Hub, a store that has a location in Lawrence.

Both Portillo and McDermott are vying to fill a seat that will be left by Republican Michelle Derusseau, who chose not to run for re-election. According to the Douglas County Clerk’s Office, since 1928, Democrats have only served in the 3rd District seat for three terms. The last Democratic commissioner for the 3rd District was I.J. Stoneback, who served from 1972 to 1976.

In the other open race for the County Commission, the 2nd District seat, Democratic candidate Shannon Reid is facing Republican Brett LaRue. However, LaRue previously told the Journal-World he was not actively campaigning in the race prior to the primary elections in August. He then endorsed incumbent Democratic candidate Nancy Thellman.

But Reid defeated Thellman in a drawn-out primary election, in which it took weeks for the clerk’s office to count and recount all of the votes. After Reid was named the winner, LaRue said he was unsure whether he’d remain out of the race. He has not returned the Journal-World’s repeated requests for clarification on his campaign.

It’s unclear how much money Reid has raised for the general election. Her campaign finance report has not been published on the county’s website. As of Friday afternoon, County Clerk Jamie Shew had not responded to the Journal-World’s request for the document. Reid on Friday also did not respond to the Journal-World’s request for the report.

LaRue may not have been required to file a report. In July, prior to the primary election, LaRue filed an exemption from financial reports, which is allowed if the candidate intended to spend and receive less than $1,000 in donations, according to the document.

Election Day is Tuesday and polls will be open until 7 p.m. For more information about the candidates on the ballot, when and where to vote or other information about the 2020 election, visit

Contact Dylan Lysen

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