West catching up to U.S. Rep. Klein in raising money for campaign

July 18, 2010

Amid the rah-rah partisan optimism at the Florida Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, sounded a tad worried about his own bellwether race.

Klein has $2.9 million in his campaign account, tops in the U.S. for candidates in competitive races. But Republican challenger Allen West is closing in with $2.2 million in cash on hand after raising $1.4 million between April 1 and June 30.

The conservative West has used a viral YouTube video and a massive direct-mail campaign to tap into national discontent with President Obama and the Democratic Congress. West raised a whopping $463,785 last quarter from contributors who gave less than $200, which shows he’s built a large national base of donors to whom he can return for more money.

“West is raising millions of dollars from tea party activists across the country,” Klein told the 1,300 Democratic activists at Saturday’s dinner in Hollywood. He mentioned “tea party” three times in his seven-minute remarks and made three Sarah Palin references, including a twofer when he called West “the darling of the Palin tea party.”

If all that Palin and tea party talk didn’t jolt his Democratic audience, Klein also invoked the specter of 1994, when Dems lost both houses of Congress two years into Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency.

“We cannot afford to repeat what happened in 1994,” Klein said. “Democrats stayed home. They didn’t show up at the polls. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for all of us.”

•When Republican state Rep. Carl Domino released an internal Diversified Research poll that shows him with a 41.7-to-25.3 percent lead over Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff in their GOP state Senate primary, Bogdanoff’s camp pointed to a poll by better-known McLaughlin & Associates that shows Bogdanoff up by 11 points.
Bogdanoff accused Domino of using “malicious questions to deliberately injure my reputation and skew the polling results” in his survey.

Domino consultant David Wolfson said the poll did indeed include questions that weren’t flattering to Bogdanoff, including mentions of campaign contributions from Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and indicted moneyman Alan Mendelsohn. But Wolfson said those questions were asked after the initial query showed Domino with a 16-point lead.

Questions anticipating potential lines of attack against Domino were asked as well, said Wolfson. He wouldn’t share them, but said Domino had a bigger lead after all the questions were asked.

•The Palm Beach County Democratic Party, seeking to increase its partisan influence in nonpartisan school board races this year, did not give a “qualified” rating to 24-year incumbent and lifelong Dem Bill Graham.
A Dem panel interviewed most of the 18 school board candidates and bestowed “qualified” ratings on six. In Graham’s District 3, Karen Brill was the only one of four candidates to get the qualified label.

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