Pence huge money leader in governor's race with help from Koch Brothers
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - The money race for Indiana's next governor will clearly be won by Republican Congressman Mike Pence, while it will take a party split and an extraordinary candidate for Democrats to win statewide in 2012, according to veteran political pundit Ray Scheele.
Campaign finance reports released Monday showed that Democrat John Gregg made some progress in raising cash by tripling his contributions in the last three months and amassing a $3 million campaign war chest. About $1.7 million of that has been raised since March.
Pence has nearly $10 million raised and $3 million of that was in the last three months. That amounts to 7,740 donors and 76 percent coming from Hoosiers.
"Hoosiers from four corners of the state are responding to our positive, issues-based campaign," said Kyle Robertson, Pence campaign manager.
Pence has been running televisions ads since May 15 and spent about $1.4 million just last month on those campaign pitches. Gregg has not jumped on the airwaves, and has been traveling the Jefferson-Jackson dinner and county fair circuit to pick up some grassroots support for his campaign.
Gregg also has turned to attacking Pence campaign supporters like the Koch Brothers and other Washington insiders like Randall Tobias who resigned from the Bush administration after admitting he was a customer of a Washington D.C. escort service whose owner was charged with running a sex for hire operation.
The Koch Brothers gave Pence at least $120,000, and the Tea Party founders have been instrumental in electing Tea Party candidates to Congress and state governments. Pence's biggest contributor was the Republican Governor's Association that gave him $1 million. And manufacturer Dean White of Merrillville kicked in another $425,000.
"Congressman Pence is once again showing his true colors as a Washington insider who is out of touch and out of state just like his donors," said Dan Altman, Gregg's communication director.
Altman pointed out that Gregg had 97 percent of all individual contributors come from Indiana along with the median donation at $100. Gregg also has former big name Democrats like Judy O"Bannon, widow of the late Gov. Frank O'Bannon raising money in his behalf. And his biggest contributor is the Indiana Political Action Commitee for Education at $250,000 with labor PACS also weighing in.
Libertarian Rupert Boneham has raised less than $25,000 and is taking his more freedom, less government campaign to the people like at county fairs and festivals.
Pence has been in the field too, campaigning in lake country last weekend, visiting Steuben, Elkhart and Allen counties. Gregg was close to Muncie, attending the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Portland, and making a stop at the Dairy Dream in Albany. Rupert was just at the Henry County Fair in New Castle.
Scheele, co-director of The Bowen Center for Public Affairs, said Democrats only win statewide when the Republican Party is split or the Democrats nominate an extraordinary candidate that appeals across party lines like O'Bannon or former Gov. Evan Bayh.
While there is a split among Hoosier Republicans over the Richard Lugar-Richard Mourdock primary battle form U.S. Senate, it remains to be seen if that split affects the governor's race, Scheele said.
Pence and Gregg are not very well known statewide, Sheele added. Pence's money does give him the advantage in advertising, but Gregg needs enough money to be competitive.
"That is the question mark for the Gregg campaign," said Scheele.