Republican presidential candidates are trailing badly in the campaign fundraising race to win the White House.
But so far this year, and going largely unnoticed is the fact that Republican governors are far out-raising their Democratic counterparts in the money race to control the state houses.
As members of the Republican Governors Assn. gathered at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point for their post-election conference this week with public sessions open for today's sessions, they can feel a measure of comfort, having won two of three races this year.
Led by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, the GOP group raised $12.3 million in the first half of 2007, compared with $5.4 million for the Democratic Governors Assn. The GOP likely will need it, given that there are 22 Republican governors and 28 Democrats.
In 2008, there will be 11 gubernatorial races. Democrats expect four incumbents to defend their positions, and hold two others where Democrats are departing.
“They’re up in the numbers, but we’re up in the races,” according to Brian Namey, a Democratic governors spokesman told The Times' Dan Morain. He added that Democrats intend to target two Republican incumbents in Missouri and Indiana. “We’re more efficient. We keep winning,” he added.
Republican spokesman Chris Schrimpf fired back simply: “We won two of three races. If you win two of three, you’ve had a better year. And if you out-raise the other side two to one, you’ve had a better year.”
Republican and Democratic governors organizations raise money from similar sources, according to their official reports filed twice a year with the Internal Revenue Service. Telecom giant Verizon, for example, gave $100,000 to each group; cigarette maker Altria gave each $75,000; drug maker Wyeth gave $50,000 to both.
Democrats instead tap into labor's money. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, for one, gave $300,000. Republicans tend to tap wealthy individuals. Texas homebuilder Bob Perry has given the Republicans $400,000 and A. Jerrold Perenchio, retired chairman of Univision, chipped in $100,000.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will discuss the future with the GOP governors at their meeting. On Friday, the Republicans will elect a new association chairman. None of the current crop of presidential candidates plans to appear before the group, whose membership has produced Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and the association's most recent past president, Mitt Romney. No doubt, a future Republican presidential candidate or two will be in attendance.
(UPDATE: The RGA's three-day meeting ended Friday with the election of Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the new chair and first-time re-election of a vice-chair, Missouri's Gov. Matt Blunt. For the first time also a governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, was elected finance chair and the state leaders created a new position of recruiting chair to help find and develop GOP candidates for future gubernatorial elections. Georgia's Gov. Sonny Perdue was given that assignment as part of a multi-year plan for Republicans to win back a majority of the 50 statehouses from their current 22 by 2010.)