Moffett hopes small-dollar donors from outside KY will reverse fundraising funk

12/21/2010 12:18 PM

Hampered by slower-than-expected progress toward his goal of raising $1 million, Republican candidate for governor Phil Moffett is changing his strategy to seek more small-dollar donors.

David Adams, Moffett’s campaign manager, said fundraising is a “work in progress” at this point of the campaign.

“We’re scrambling to get our fund-raising off the ground,” Adams said in a phone interview with cn|2 Politics.

The lingering effects of the recession, competing for donors’ attention and dollars during the holiday season and going up against a well-known, well-funded candidate all have slowed Moffett from stuffing his campaign’s bank account.

Moffett, a Louisville businessman who works in telecommunications, announced his run for governor a few months ago during an appearance on conservative radio host Leland Conway’s radio show in Lexington. Moffett is running with Republican state Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County as his lieutenant governor.

In addition to the economy and the holidays, Adams also said that the presence of Moffett’s primary opponent, current Senate President David Williams, is preventing Republican donors from giving to the Moffett campaign in fear of crossing Williams.

Because money is proving to be hard to find, Adams is sending his candidate outside of Kentucky raise money starting with a Dec. 8 fundraiser in West Palm Beach, Fla., as the Associated Press previously reported.

Teresa Dailey, the Florida fund-raiser the Moffett campaign has hired to help raise cash, told cn|2 Politics in an interview that the immediate goal for the campaign is to raise the total donor numbers instead of focusing on how much money is coming in.

The campaign is hoping to reach a 500 donor goal by the end of the year, she said. Dailey said the Moffett-Harmon campaign has 150 donors.

Achieving that will require reaching out to tea party groups across the nation, Dailey said. She said she is confident many of those groups would eventually support the Moffett campaign.

Adams said the campaign has been “expecting” an influx of cash from tea party groups from across the country.

“Definitely expecting that,” Adams said. “Right now we’re kind of game-planning it out under different scenarios, and that’s one of them.”

Another option, Adams said, would be to run the campaign without a lot of money on hand.

So far, Dailey said Florida-based tea party groups D.C. Works and South Florida 9/12 have already lined up to support and donate to Moffett’s campaign. When asked about national party groups, like Tea Party Patriots or the Tea Party Express, Dailey was confident they would pledge support to Moffett.

“Yes they are (going to support Moffett),” Dailey said. “And Florida is going to be very supportive.”

But support from at least one of those groups isn’t precedent.

In an e-mail, Levi Russell of the Tea Party Express said that the group hasn’t gotten involved in state elections so far, or made any plans to do so. But he left the door open to changing that position.

“Tea Party Express hasn’t ever gotten involved in state elections,” Russell said. “We’ve only endorsed or made expenditures on behalf of candidates for national office. That’s not to say that at some point we wouldn’t consider getting involved in a statewide race, but we hadn’t made any plans to so far.”

With the hope of outside support, Dailey said the campaign has a goal of raising between $1 million to $2 million by the end of the first quarter of fund-raising. Moffett set those same goals during an interview on Pure Politics last month.

Williams already raised $500,000 in the first two weeks of fund-raising after the Nov. 2 election and loaned $100,000 of his own money to his campaign. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is running for re-election and declared his candidacy very early, has already raised $3 million for his campaign.

While money might be lacking, Adams said Moffett is seeing a lot of grassroots support.

“I’m really encouraged by the enthusiasm we’re seeing among grassroots supporters — people who aren’t money supporters, but are receptive to Phil’s message,” Adams said.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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