If Henderson County Judge David Holstein is going to hold on to the job he won from voters four years ago, it appears he’ll have to survive a stiff challenge from Aubrey Jones.

And even if he does that, he’ll still face a November challenge from Democrat Charles Curtis of Brownsboro, who is unopposed in the March 7 primary.

Holstein, the incumbent Republican from the Gun Barrel City area faces a candidate in Jones — a former interim county judge — who appears to have strong financial backing in Athens, including from several in the medical community.

Jones replaced an ailing Tommy Smith in 2002 and served as county judge for just under one year.

Some members of the hospital community were openly displeased with Holstein’s claims last year that the Athens facility wasn’t in compliance with its sublease agreement with the Henderson County Hospital Authority. Holstein also said publicly last year that several members of the Authority had conflicts of interest because of close associations to the ETMC Hospital Board.

The lingering effects of those confrontations can probably be found in the county’s most recent campaign finance reports from the county clerk’s office.

Jones was benefiting from 23 contributors of $100 or more, and 19 of those 23 listed Athens addresses.

Only one of those contributions is above $500 and none are less than $100.

Still, they come to $6,050, helped along considerably by a $2,000 contribution from Dr. Harold L. Smitson of Athens.

Jones’ other notable hospital contributor to date is ETMC Athens Administrator Pat Wallace, who had kicked in $250 to Jones’ campaign through mid-January.

Jones campaign has also benefited from two $500 contributions, one from John Trent of Athens, and the other from Steve and Tammy Stewart of Athens.

Only one of those contributions (from Robert and Laurie Reeve of Eustace) however, came from a citizen west of Athens.

Jones reported $1,567 in expenses with $4,703.04 to carry into the final weeks of the campaign. His reported expenses included $681 for posts for signs, $725 for advertising on political calendars.

In stark contrast to Jones’ Athens support, Holstein had reported no outside contributions, either in Athens or the rest of the county, through the first two reporting periods.

Holstein’s out-of-pocket expenses through January 15 came to $1,196, not including his $750 filing fee. The bulk of his expenditures has gone for political signs ($1,126.25).

Candidates are required to make their last financial contribution statements eight days prior to the March 7 primary, or by next Tuesday.

Whatever happens financially, this race remains a mystery.

How much support Holstein retains around the lake area on the west side of the county where he drew much of his support in his last race, and how much support he gets on the east side of county from Athens to Chandler, could determine his success or failure.

If voters around the Cedar Creek Lake area turn out to vote for the incumbent in big numbers, Holstein would still seem to have a numbers advantage over Jones, since that’s where most of the county population now resides.

It’s a mystery destined to be short-lived, though, and one that will be solved on the evening of March 7.

The survivor then faces Brownsboro Democrat Char-les Curtis, who is unopposed, in November’s general election.

Here are reported campaign contributions and expenses of county judge candidates so far. The candidates have turned in two reports thus far and those dates are listed, with the final one scheduled for next Tuesday, or eight days prior to the primary.

Also note that contribution totals are for each reporting period with the two numbers added together for total contributions raised to date.

All candidates must turn in three campaign finance reports prior to the March 7 primary. The reporting dates vary because the candidates races don’t officially begin until they declare a campaign manager. May of the candidates are their own campaign managers.

Republican Primary:

County Judge

• Incumbent Republican David Holstein, Gun Barrel City

Reporting Periods Covered: 12-2-05 through 1-13-06, and 1-13-06 through 1-26-06:

Out-of-Pocket Expenditures to date: $1,196.25

Filing Fee: $750.

Contributions: none and none.

Campaign Treasurer: Fran Sernka, Mabank, named on Dec. 2, 2005.

• Challenger Republican Aubrey L. Jones, Jr., Athens

Reporting Periods Covered: 12-01-05 through 12-31-05, and 1-01-06 through 1-26-06.

Political Contributions per reporting periods: $350 and $5,700 for $6,050 total.

Top Contributors: Harold L. Smitson, M.D., Athens, $2000, John Trent, Athens, $500, Steve and Tammy Stewart, Athens, $500, Paul Harrup $300, Pat Wallace $250, Thomas P. Faulk $250, Dan and Kerry Keech, $250, Charles and Alicia Elliott, $200 .

Total Expenditures to date: $1,576.96

Filing Fee: $750

Campaign Treasurer: Randy Jones, named on Dec. 6, 2005.

Democratic Primary

• Challenger Unopposed Democrat Charles Curtis, Brownsboro

Reporting Periods Covered: 1-15-2006 through 2-6-06, and 1-2-06 through 1-15-06.

Total Political Contributions per reporting period: none and none.

Out of pocket expenditures to date: $805.77 and $4,660.78 of which $3,855.01 went to political road and yard signs;

Campaign Treasurer: Dan Mandeville, Murchison, named on 1-2-06.

Filing Fee: $750

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