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More area money goes to bush

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23 February, 2004
More area money goes to Bush effort
Dave Aeikens


President George W. Bush has raised by far the most money in Central Minnesota as the presidential race comes to Minnesota on March 2.
As Democrat and Republican party activists prepare for precinct caucuses, a review of federal campaign contributions shows Bush has raised the most in the region. The $22,625 the president has raised is a tiny fraction of the $1.5 million he has raised statewide.

Locally, of the three major Democratic candidates expected to be part of the contest in Minnesota, only John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich reported any campaign contributions through Dec. 31.

Edwards, a first-term U.S. senator from North Carolina, received $250 from a Waite Park donor. Kucinich has $250 from a St. Cloud donor. John Kerry reported no Central Minnesota contributions in the reporting period. Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has won most of the primaries and caucuses conducted so far and is piling up a lead in delegates needed to capture the nomination.

Bush has raised more than 10 times the money the four Democratic candidates have received in Central Minnesota.

"It's over hundreds of people who have donated in the city of St. Cloud itself. It also indicates how citizens in St. Cloud think and feel," said Jay Esmay, the Republican party chairman for St. Cloud and the St. Cloud Bush campaign chairman.

Federal Election Commission reports show Kerry raised $226,350 in Minnesota through the reporting period, Edwards raised $42,620 and Kucinich $17,345.

Dean reported raising $267,705 and Clark $89,813.

Kay Wolsborn, a political science professor at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict, said the Kerry and Edwards campaigns did not start to take hold until January and February, so they might have raised more money in this area since then as the caucuses nears.

Republicans are targeting Minnesota as a chance for Bush to win the state, something that was last done by a Republican presidential candidate in 1972.

"Minnesota is a state in play," Wolsborn said. "The Bush campaign has every reason to solicit funds for their campaign in Minnesota."

The days of Minnesota as a Democratic stronghold are over, Wolsborn said.

Edwards, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, U.S. Rep. Kucinich of Ohio, and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark have collected a combined $2,100.

"St. Cloud is really not a traditional hotbed for raising money for presidential elections. Candidates have not been working the area too hard," said Al Patton, 6th District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman.

Patton said fund-raising will pick up once the caucuses have ended and the candidates have been in Minnesota.

Bush has no opposition leading up to the nomination. Clark and Dean have suspended their campaigns and are not expected to compete next month in Minnesota.

In the 2000 election, Bush won Stearns County and the areas that include Sauk Rapids, Waite Park, Becker and Little Falls, running strong with more than 50 percent of the vote. Vice President Al Gore won the state and its 10 electoral votes.

What's next

Political parties will have precinct caucuses March 2 at various sites. Democrats are selecting delegates for their presidential nomination.

To view candidate campaign finance reports, go to the Federal Election Commission Web site at

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