This article originally provided by The Herald-Dispatch

July 22, 2007

Relative handful of West Virginians funding White House race

Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- With Mountain State fundraising appearances expected by Democrat Hillary Clinton on Friday and Republican Rudy Giuliani next week, West Virginians are gradually opening their wallets for the 2008 presidential candidates.

Only about 216 households are responsible for the $243,184 contributed by state residents as of June 30, the latest Federal Election Commission reports show. The total includes $499 in donations to former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore before the Republican dropped out of the race. The total does not include any money given to Republican Fred Thompson, who has yet to declare a White House run.

By contrast, the 17 remaining declared candidates have raised $227 million from the other states, plus $9.3 million from donors living abroad and in U.S. territories.

When weighed by population only two states have given less: Montana and North Dakota. New Mexico, where Gov. Bill Richardson is among the Democratic hopefuls, has contributed the most per-capita: nearly $2.50 for each of its 1.8 million residents.

West Virginia's per-capita rate is 13 cents. It accounts for less than 1 percent of the total money raised by each of the candidates. The most significant role the state has played in overall fundraising for any candidate has been for Sen. Sam Brownback. Having raised about $2.6 million as of June 30 - the fourth-most among GOP contenders - just under 1 percent of the Kansas Republican's funds have come from West Virginia.

Six declared candidates have yet to receive any money from the Mountain State: Democrats Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, and Republicans John Cox, Mike Huckabee and Tommy Thompson.

With their attention turned to Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary and caucus states, the White House hopefuls have spent only about $15,000 in West Virginia to date:

- The campaign of Democrat John Edwards paid the Segal Law Firm $8,580 for use of its airplane last month and another $3,354 to the Charleston Marriott hotel, where it held a March fundraiser;

- Richardson paid political consultant Mike Plante and his firm $2,000 in June;

- Republican John McCain spent $1,000 for lodging at the Charleston Marriott in March and May;

- Brownback's campaign has paid Kellen MacBeth of Berkeley Springs about $535 in per diem fees in May and June.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Charleston residents account for just under half of West Virginia's presidential contributions. The FEC reports also show only a handful of state donors hedging their bets by giving to more than one candidate:

- Thomas DeWitt of Swanson Industries of Morgantown has given $2,300 to Giuliani, the maximum amount, and $250 to Brownback;

- Charleston lawyer Jim Humphreys, a former lawmaker and congressional candidate, donated the maximum amount to both Edwards and Democrat Joe Biden on March 31. The latter contribution reflects the only one to the Delaware senator from the state;

- Coy Flowers of Lewisburg has given $250 to both Clinton and Edwards;

- Former state Democratic Party Chairman Steve White contributed $1,000 to Edwards in January and $2,300 to Clinton last month.

White is among several state party leaders and officeholders, including fellow former Chairman Chuck Smith and Charleston Councilman Harry Deitzler, backing Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y. Humphrey's money to Edwards, meanwhile, reflects heavy interest among the state's lawyers - particularly the plaintiffs' bar - in the former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee.

As for other candidates that have raised at least $10,000 in the state, Giuliani's West Virginia contributors include such GOP activists and traditional donors as Robert Gould and James Reed and their spouses. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate and former Massachusetts governor, counts Trans Energy Inc.'s Loren Bagley, Kanawha County marketer George McCune and Marriott executive Timothy Sheldon among his major in-state contributors.

Brownback's Mountain State money has come largely from mining equipment and consulting interests. An ardent social conservative, Brownback has included coal in his energy proposals. But he has also called for a lowering of carbon dioxide emissions, citing research linking Co2 levels to rising global temperatures.

Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill., has received more than 50 donations in the state, mostly $250 or less. Elizabeth Mow of Buckhannon, for instance, has given $100 a month to Obama since January.

The next round of campaign finance reports must be filed with the FEC in October.


Lawrence Messina covers the statehouse for The Associated Press.


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