Texas Perry hopes polling surge spurs donors Gov. aims to compete with Romney's deep pockets

By Will Weissert

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry's on a mad dash for cash. He's reaching beyond his traditional in-state base as he tries to build a national fundraising machine large enough to compete with Mitt Romney's very deep pockets.

Perry is a prolific fundraiser in his home state, but Texas money and his established contacts around the country won't be enough to bankroll a presidential campaign. His fundraising record while running the Republican Governors Association, however, is strong -- nearly double what his Democratic counterpart brought in during the first half of this year.

The test will be whether Perry can transform his lead in some opinion polls into cash -- and whether his fundraising skills can compete with Romney, who raised $10 million in one day earlier in the year, or ultimately President Barack Obama, who raised the nearly $750 million he spent in the 2008 primary and general election campaigns from private donations.

"He's still basically a regional guy," said Bill Miller, a longtime Austin-based lobbyist, whose HillCo.PAC has contributed more than $250,000 to past Perry campaigns.

While trying to hang on to Texas donors, Perry is also courting would-be contributors in neighboring states and beyond. On Monday, he held two events in Oklahoma. He dined with a host of big donors at a posh Dallas hotel on Tuesday night, held a breakfast fundraiser in Austin early Wednesday, then headed to New Orleans for lunch and was in Houston for dinner. He had fundraisers in Midland and San Antonio on Thursday and has planned fundraising trips to California this week and Washington, D.C., later in September.

Perry's bump in opinion polls has sparked speculation that he will attract donors who were previously unsatisfied with the Republican field and therefore had stayed on the sidelines. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is the GOP field's established money leader with a $12.7 million war chest as of July, $10 million of which he raised in one day in Las Vegas.

Perry isn't required to divulge how much money he has raised to the Federal Election Commission until Sept. 30.

His fundraisers say he's angling to make a big splash with his first filing.

Published: Tue, Sep 6, 2011

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