Saturday, April 29, 2006

Non-Ohioans pour nearly $2 million into governor's race

Non-Ohioans pour nearly $2 million into governor's race

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - California businessman Robin P. Arkley II has a horse in Tuesday's primary race in faraway Ohio. So does Penna Dexter in Plano, Texas, a regional representative for Concerned Women for America.

New Jersey developers Howard and Betty Lou Schwartz, who also list a retirement address in Florida, have given $40,000 split equally between a Democrat and a Republican running for Ohio governor.

Out-of-staters have poured almost $2 million into Ohio's 2006 race so far, more than an entire gubernatorial election costs in many states. Democrat Howard Dean's 1998 victory in Vermont, for instance, came in a race where the candidates raised $775,880 combined.

The non-Ohio contributions are helping push up the price of the election to what may ultimately be a record-breaker for the state.

In a race being watched around the country, the two Democrats and two Republicans have raised a combined $12.2 million even before the primary - over half the $20.5 million spent in the state-record 1996 contest in which Gov. Bob Taft beat then-Attorney General Lee Fisher.

Perhaps most significant in Ohio, though, is not the amount of the contributions but their geographic diversity - particularly those going to Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Blackwell's campaign finance reports list donations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Arkley, a $10,000 donor in Eureka, Calif., and Dexter, who gave $50, evidence the breadth.

Blackwell's was the one major campaign to which the Schwartzes didn't donate. Affiliated with Livingston, N.J.-based Millenium Homes, the couple gave $10,000 each to Attorney General Jim Petro, a Republican, and the same $20,000 sum to Democrat U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland. A telephone message seeking comment from the couple was not returned.

John Stemberger, president and general counsel for the Florida Family Policy Council, said Blackwell's name is well-known among Christian "values voters" across the country who oppose abortion and gay marriage.

"Our organization doesn't endorse candidates, but I'll tell you I was going to cut Blackwell a check from my own personal account," said Stemberger, a member of the Arlington Group, a group of politically influential conservatives that holds closed monthly meetings whose attendees are asked not to disclose specifics of their discussions. Blackwell has counted himself as both a member of the group and a presenter at their meetings.

"Frankly, I think that race is the most important in the country this time around, period. I think Ken Blackwell has the potential to be a national leader in the Republican Party. He could potentially be president of the United States someday, and the first black president at that."

Nearly a quarter of the $3.8 million Blackwell has reported raising before Tuesday's primary has come from out-of-staters, more than any other candidate.

About 11 percent of Petro's money has come from other states, including decent chunks from Florida, the favored location of many Ohio retirees, and Pennsylvania.

Strickland has collected 14 percent of his $4.2 million from out of state, the most from the Washington area where he has served as a congressman since 1996.

Campaign spokesman Jess Goode said it is more reasonable to get a tenth than a quarter of one's campaign money from non-Ohioans.

"We have kept our efforts focused on Ohio and Ohioans," he said. "That's clearly not what Ken Blackwell has done."

Democrats also see national potential in Ohio this year, viewing Strickland as their best chance in years to take back a state that has been run by Republicans for more than a decade. They are bolstered by a wide-ranging state investment scandal that has tarnished statewide officeholders, including Taft, and motivated by the fact that Ohio has been crucial in electing Republican President George Bush in the last two presidential elections.

Strickland has collected donations from 37 states, Petro from 24, and former state Rep. Bryan Flannery, a Democrat, from 14. All three candidates also have donors from Washington, D.C.

According to figures from the Institute on Money in State Politics, the cost of gubernatorial races around the country can run from the absurdly expensive - take New York Gov. George Pataki's 1998 contest against billionaire B. Thomas Golisano at $141 million - to the barely breathing.

Sue O'Connell, a spokeswoman for the institute, said it depends on each state's campaign giving restrictions, how contentious the race is, the number of candidates running, and whether any are self-funded and therefore exempt from certain caps.

So specific is circumstance to the cash outlay that patterns are difficult to spot.

Blackwell campaign spokesman Carlo LoParo said Blackwell's strong showing outside the state shouldn't diminish the fact that he has collected more than 14,000 donations from Ohioans, the most of the four candidates.

"The Republican Party is a national party. People are going to have an interest in Republican candidates who share their points of view," he said.

According to campaign finance filings, however, thousands of Blackwell donors gave less than $10, with the smallest recorded Ohio donor giving 52 cents, so that his average per Ohio donor is $173. The average Ohioan who donated to Strickland gave $399 and the average Ohioan who gave to Petro gave $528.

Strickland had raised the most money from Ohioans overall, as of last week's filing deadline: $3.5 million, compared with Blackwell's $2.9 million, Petro's $2.4 million, and Flannery's $43,960.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Candidates' fund-raising slowed by restrictions

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/11/06

Many statewide political candidates were resting up March 31, the day after the 2006 legislative session closed. But not Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Cathy Cox and Republican lieutenant governor candidate Casey Cagle.
Cox reported collecting $57,000 and Cagle $103,000 on the day after the legislative session, the last day to collect money before the campaign finance reporting period ended.

That allowed Cox, Georgia's secretary of state, to raise more than either of the other two major candidates, Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue and Democrat Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, during the reporting period between Jan. 1 and March 31. And it gave Cagle, a state senator, a respectable showing against Republican rival Ralph Reed, who, unlike the lawmaker, wasn't prohibited from raising money during the legislative session.

That prohibition—state officials and lawmakers can't solicit funds during the session — made the reporting period one of the lightest of the year for major candidates.

The session started Jan. 9 and ended March 30, so there was little time for elected officials to raise money. Because of that, none of them made much headway against their rivals.

The big-money push is coming up, and Perdue remains far ahead. As of April 1, he had $8.26 million in the bank, while Taylor had $4.17 million and Cox $2.9 million.

During the latest reporting period, Cox raised $185,891, Perdue $141,985 and Taylor $98,531, according to campaign disclosure reports filed late last week. For all three candidates, the biggest "contribution" came from interest on the millions they have socked away.

Among Perdue's biggest donors was Virgil Williams, former Gov. Zell Miller's chief of staff. Williams and his company's political action committee gave $12,800 three days before the 2006 session began.

Taylor got $5,000 from prominent Columbus trial lawyer Jim Butler, a leading Democratic donor, and Taylor loaned his campaign more than $20,000 for consulting. Taylor has now put more than $1,044,000 into his campaign.

Cox received mostly small contributions, although she did take in $2,000 from Marietta Daily Journal publisher Otis Brumby, $5,000 from state Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Norcross) and $2,500 from Cathy Henson, former chairwoman of the Georgia Board of Education.

In politics, the ability to raise money — used to pay for staff, mailings and TV ads — has always been used as a way to measure a campaign's health.

Cagle, who lives near Gainesville, got to bed at 2 a.m. Friday, March 31, while the clock was already ticking on the 24 hours he had left to whittle down Reed's fund-raising lead. At about 4 a.m., a timer went off on a Cagle campaign computer and e-mails went out to a preselected list of 100 likely givers, all capable of writing big checks, formally requesting their financial assistance in the campaign.

Roughly a third of the money came over the Internet, on credit cards. The rest were checks gathered by a crew of four volunteers dashing around Atlanta. Fifty-five donors agreed to pony up. Average amount: $1,882.

Some of the largest donations came from lobbyists with whom Cagle had been dealing the night before at the Capitol. Lobbyist Clint Austin of Marietta, whose clients include BellSouth and Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, was the largest donor, giving $10,000 — $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election.

"I think it speaks to the momentum of this campaign and the excitement around it. People were very, very, very eager to come on board," Cagle said. "We were dialing as fast as we could, and people were very gracious to respond."

But Reed was pressing, too. Though not under the same restrictions, the largest portion of Reed's fund-raising, nearly $140,000, came in the final five days of the period. Checks included $20,000 from Robin and Cherie Arkley of Eureka, Calif. Arkley family members are large donors to Republican causes.

In 2004, Robin Arkley, a securities investor, spent $515,000 to finance "You're Fired," a group that launched an October TV ad blitz in South Dakota aimed at toppling then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

The latest campaign reports were supposed to be in Friday, but most weren't available to the public until Sunday. And even what's available can't be searched electronically.

Perdue and the Legislature passed a new ethics law last year shifting responsibility for collecting campaign finance documents from the secretary of state to the State Ethics Commission.

The money to make the transition hasn't yet made it to the Ethics Commission. So candidates essentially sent in old paper forms, which don't allow the public to electronically search for donors or expenditures, which is important if one wants to track which industries or special interests gave to which candidates.

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