Noriega reports $570K raised

Rick Noriega will report raising over $570,000 for this quarter. Now you know why I nagged so often. Here’s the press release:

Rick Noriega announced today contributions of $570,000 for the October 15th FEC financial disclosure report. The report, the first for the State Representative and Lt. Colonel’s exploratory campaign, shows growing momentum for his campaign to unseat incumbent Republican John Cornyn.

“Rick Noriega’s strength is his story,” noted his campaign manager Sue Schechter, referring to his long history of service, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan, playing a leading role in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Houston, commanding troops and serving five terms as a State Representative. “As our very first FEC report makes clear, Rick has the fundraising appeal and a growing network of supporters to ensure we’ll have the resources to communicate his story to the voters.”

Noriega’s fundraising totals put Texas on the map nationally, besting the benchmarks set by 3 out of 5 of the winning Democratic challengers in 2006 Senate races. As the attached chart shows, Noriega’s totals put him ahead of the 2006-October 15th filings of John Tester (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jim Webb (D-VA), whose victories last cycle helped secure Democratic control of the US Senate. Noriega’s totals are ahead of all winners except Bob Casey (D-PA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), both of whom were already statewide officeholders.

In addition to Noriega’s support from a growing list of the state’s leading Democratic donors, the campaign also raised $158,860 online from over 1,100 donations via ActBlue, the Democratic clearinghouse for online donations. That made the Noriega campaign the most successful non-incumbent Senate candidate on ActBlue during the 3rd quarter. The report also includes a $5,000 contribution from PAC, the leading political organization of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as well as a $50,000 loan Noriega made to his own campaign, and nearly 1,300 unique contributors.

“Our fundraising network includes pro-choice women from Dallas, business leaders from the Valley, Democratic icons from across the state, and small dollar donors from a retired woman in Wichita Falls to over 1,100 contributors on the Internet,” Schechter explained.

“We accomplished this milestone in the toughest fundraising quarter, after Col. Noriega served in a grueling legislative session, and lost two weeks of fundraising while he fulfilled his guard duty at Fort Benning, GA,” added Schechter. “We continue to run a lean operation, because we know we’re in this for the long haul,” Schechter continued, referring to aggressive efforts to minimize overhead expenditures. “But one thing is for sure, despite our primary opponent’s efforts to portray himself as the next Daddy Warbucks, more and more Texans are showing they prefer to invest in experience, not just a checkbook.”

Three points:

1. I doubt we’ll see the “Noriega has a great bio, but Watts has the money” story line completely disappear, but I have hope that this will at least put it on the disabled list. Bear in mind also that Noriega didn’t start raising money until mid-July, and spent part of the quarter doing Army National Guard duty. That is to say, he really did all this in two months’ time. Any more questions about whether he’ll raise the money he needs to be competitive?

2. Speaking of Mikal Watts’ money, you do know that the millions he’s loaned himself so far are strictly for the primary, right? He hasn’t put up a dime of his own money yet to run against John Cornyn, just against Noriega. Which is fine and dandy – we do vote in March before we vote in November, after all – I just want to be clear on that. The reason for this, besides the need to win the primary, is that Watts doesn’t want to trigger the millionaire amendment for Cornyn, which would allow him to ask his maxed-out donors for more. Maybe he should worry about triggering it for Noriega, too.

3. On a tangential note, while Noriega has picked up endorsements in Watts’ backyard, I am as yet unaware of Watts doing the same on Noriega’s turf. Just something to think about.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I’ll fully support Mikal Watts if he wins the primary. He’s not my first choice, but he’d still be loads better than what we’ve got now. To me, though, the choice between Noriega and Watts is perfectly clear. Why settle for less than the best?

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