Somewhat to my surprise, given how many members of our Congressional delegation have endorsed Wes Clark and how well-established the Howard Dean network is, John Edwards is the top money-raiser among Democrats in Texas.
Edwards raised $1.6 million in Texas through the end of January, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Edwards far outstripped the other Democrats in the race, but all were eclipsed by President Bush, who raised $12.6 million in Texas so far, out of $131.7 million across the nation.
Edwards raised a total of $14 million nationwide, including $427,595 in Houston.
Second to Edwards in Texas fund raising was Dean, who collected $678,986 in Texas, out of $41 million total. Dean raised $165,000 in Houston, and dozens of Houstonians campaigned for him in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Arthur Schechter of Houston, Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman and former ambassador to the Bahamas during the Clinton administration, gave money to Dean, Edwards, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
"I like everybody," Schechter said. "I think I have had six of the nine Democratic candidates as house guests at one time or another."
But Schechter, who recently was elected chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said he will be supporting Kerry.
"I think he sounds and looks and talks and walks more like a president than anyone we have had in a long time," he said. "And he's right on the issues."
In the Texas money race, Wesley Clark was third among Democrats, raising $477,949, including $94,000 in Houston.
Keir Murray, a Houston-area volunteer organizer for Clark, said the former NATO supreme commander has drawn a diverse group of supporters.
"There were some who were getting involved in politics for the first time," Murray said. "There were independents and even some disaffected Republicans."
Kerry, who has a campaign office in downtown Houston that had an overloaded voice-mail system Tuesday, raised $290,615 in Texas, including $89,975 in Houston. Now that Kerry is the front-runner, his fund raising and organization in Texas will mobilize quickly, Schechter and others predicted.
I'm still scratching my head over Harris County Democratic Party chair Gerry Birnbirg's comments:
"It's all the trial lawyers," Gerald Birnberg, chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, said of Edwards' Texas money base.
Edwards was a highly successful plaintiffs lawyer before his election to the Senate.
Raising campaign money is one thing -- but where is Edwards spending it? The first-term senator does not have an extensive campaign organization in Texas.
"Interestingly enough, it would appear that Edwards has a touch of Gore-itis," Birnberg said, referring to former Vice President Al Gore, the Democrats' 2000 presidential nominee. "Edwards flies into town, then takes the money and leaves. I have seen no evidence of him spending it here."
Gore and President Clinton made many fund-raising trips to Texas but spent little of it in the state.
As to the second point, I'd like very much for all of the Democratic candidates to spend some time in Texas, especially in the biggest counties (Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Tarrant, Travis, El Paso), all of which other than Tarrant are already Democratic-majority or are slowly but steadily becoming Democratic-majority. I'd also love for the eventual nominee to spend some time here. However, I'm quite certain that every state and county chair wants the same thing. Given that Texas is not going to be anywhere close to a swing state, it hardly makes sense to use a lot of the eventual nominee's scarce resources on it. What purpose is Birnberg serving by publicly carping about it?Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 04, 2004 to The making of the President | TrackBack