As early voting began Wednesday, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is outspending Jackson businessman Mike McWherter at more than a 7 to 1 pace.
"It's one of the components to campaign success. Not all of it, but a piece of it," Bill Haslam said at a campaign stop in Cleveland.
Recently released state campaign finance disclosures detail what Haslam and McWherter have raised and spent on their quest to become Tennessee's next governor.
In the 3rd quarter, from July to September, Haslam spent $5.1 million, according to Tennessee Campaign Finance Disclosures, roughly half of that was spent on advertising.
"Who supports you says a lot about you. If the people you know the best support you, I think there's a message there. If they don't, there is a message there," Haslam said.
During the same time three month period, Democrat Mike McWherter spent $685,538.
Recent fundraising has also weighed heavily in Haslam's favor as the Republican raised more than $3.1 million. McWherter raised almost $275,000.
Haslam raised more money from contributors in the city of Knoxville than McWherter raised statewide.
This week, McWherter is spending his time in West and Middle Tennessee working for support as early voting starts in Tennessee.
Via email, his campaign gave their assessment of fundraising in the race thus far:
"Bill Haslam has spent millions on ads that say nothing about his plan for our state. While Bill Haslam touts his wealth in press releases, Mike will continue talking to hard working Tennesseans about his job growth tax program that will get our economy moving again," Shelby White, a McWherter campaign spokesperson said.
For the campaign, Haslam has spent more than $14 million. The record for a Tennessee race is about $18.6 million, spent by Bob Corker in the 2006 Senate race against Harold Ford, Jr.
Some believe Haslam could break that mark, although the Republican says he doubts it.
"I actually don't think we will. We started out our campaign modeled a lot on what Bob (Corker) had done four years ago. It's a non-incumbent race with a competitive primary and a competitive general," Haslam said.
So far, Haslam has paid back about $1 million of the $4.25 million in personal loans he made to his campaign.
McWherter has loaned himself $1 million.