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Fundraising Numbers Illuminate Race for the Republican Presidential Nomination

Filed by KOSU News in Local News, Oklahoma Votes, Politics.
October 24, 2011

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You would have to go back to 1964 for the last time the Democrat presidential nominee won the state of Oklahoma. In that race, Lyndon Johnson trounced over Barry Goldwater, on his way to winning all but six states. Only two Republicans have made a visit this campaign season, the most recent one former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Nationally, polling indicates Romney’s one of the front runners for the nomination, along with Herman Cain and Rick Perry, but his Oklahoma fundraising numbers aren’t jumping off the page…

One of the most conservative states in the country is spreading its money out in the Republican race, save for Rick Perry. According to the non-partisan group Open Secrets, the Texas Governor’s far ahead of the pack, at $450,000.

But then there’s a striking gap to the next GOP candidate. Romney sits at $52,000. Herman Cain’s numbers are even farther behind, around $30,000. Back to Romney. To boost his take, the candidate held a big money donor breakfast Friday at the Jim Thorpe Museum in Oklahoma City. Then, he spoke before about 150 at a public rally.

Robert Smith from Tulsa is convinced Romney will move on to the general election and see a further jolt in fundraising.

“I think that’ll change once he actually gets the nomination after Super Tuesday March 8th. I think that’ll change.”

Josh Vixler of Oklahoma City isn’t so sure about Romney. He went to the rally to hear more about his economic plan. But Vixler saw the value of the visit for the candidate.

“He’s not taking Oklahoma for granted that we will vote Republican. He wants to get his name out there and introduce himself to the people.”

Matt Pinnell is the state’s Republican Party chairman, and has invited all of the party’s candidates to the state. He says a few more might make the trip. Pinnell says Obama taking in $225,000 in the state doesn’t mean much.

“We always knew he was going to raise money. I don’t think that is a direct connection to how he is doing as a President. I think that has a lot to do with he’s President, he’s the incumbent and there’s still a lot of Democrats out there with money, that will give him money.”

Despite the average fundraising numbers, Oklahoma State University Political Science Professor Jim Davis says the state will vote Republican, no matter the candidate.

“Oklahoma wasn’t particularly akin to McCain, neither is it to Mitt Romney. But they’re very red. It may be an anti-Obama vote, but at least it goes in his column for support.”

Back to Pinell. He’s convinced Republicans will unify after the primary season, no matter their nominee. Plus, Pinnell says they have something more valuable than money, something that can’t be bought.

“What we have is the enthusiasm. The enthusiasm gap is very wide between us and the Democrats and if we have that on our side, that’s going to drive people to the polls more than a billion dollars is.”

The presidential race is well underway, but Oklahoma largely hasn’t seen the candidates outside of TV debates. This is only the second Republican to visit the state, the first being Rick Perry. What remains to be seen is whether other GOP candidates will calculate that a visit to the Sooner State pays off.

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