GOP trails in donations

Giuliani edges Romney, but party lags behind

October 17, 2007|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN REPORTER

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has edged past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in campaign donations from Maryland, but the Republican presidential candidates lag far behind Democrats in contributions coming from the state.

According to the latest campaign finance reports, nearly one of every two Maryland dollars given to a presidential campaign between July 1 and Sept. 30 went to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who widened her local money advantage over her nearest rival, Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton collected $966,528 from donors with Maryland addresses during the recently concluded three-month reporting period, compared with $493,537 for Obama.

The numbers mirror a national trend: Obama has relinquished his early fundraising lead to Clinton, who has fortified her advantage in national polls.

Since the start of the election cycle, the New York senator has raised $2.9 million from the state, and Obama, of Illinois, tallied $2.3 million.

"We are overwhelmed by the strong support for Senator Clinton from every walk of life and every part of Maryland," Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said in a statement.

Clinton's sum - dominated by donations from Montgomery County - reflects Maryland's "unique proximity to the nation's capital ... which is pretty much in the Clinton corner," said Matthew Crenson, a Johns Hopkins University political science professor.

Obama supporters say they are undaunted and that his contributions reflect widespread strength and appeal.

Some of Clinton's money can be spent only during a general election, and comes from "the political old-timers, the power-broker types, many of whom are still beholden to her husband," said state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, an Obama campaign chairman in Maryland.

"I don't think she is pulling away at all," Gansler said.

Maryland donors continue to give in healthy amounts, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed by the campaigns.

State residents have donated a combined $8.3 million for the 2008 campaign, of which $2.3 million was given since the beginning of July - maintaining Maryland's 11th place among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

California leads the nation in campaign contributions with $51.3 million, followed by New York ($48.9 million); Texas ($21.1 million); and Florida ($19.1 million).

Nationally, Democratic candidates significantly outpace Republicans, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with the current White House and the war in Iraq, and of a lack of enthusiasm by some Republican voters with their choice of candidates, analysts say.

At least as measured by recent campaign donations, primary voters in Maryland have yet to settle on a clear favorite for the Republican nomination.

Giuliani took in $118,100 during the third quarter, and $655,060 for the year, pushing him past Romney, with $104,989 for the quarter and $602,023 for the year. Romney held a slight edge three months ago.

Giuliani is getting assistance from former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., while Romney's campaign has the backing of the state's Republican National Committee members, Louis Pope and Joyce Lyons Terhes.

But Giuliani and Romney ranked only third and fourth, respectively, among Republican candidates for the three-month filing period.

Actor Fred Thompson, who entered the race in September, showed enough support to make him competitive, reporting donations of $160,000 from Maryland and $12.8 million nationally in his initial filing report, which often reflects the easiest money for a candidate to raise.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, collected $122,090 in the state, but his national campaign has slipped into the red.

Thompson could see a dip in donations during the remainder of the year, as his campaign is off to a lackluster start, said Crenson, the Hopkins professor.

The former Tennessee senator sensed an opportunity because "Republican voters weren't happy with any of the candidates," Crenson said. "And now it seems that they still aren't happy."

david.nitkin@baltsun.com

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