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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Southern Money Race

Most of the talk about 2010 in national political circles is vague and abstract at this point, and involves estimates of trends and waves. But there are actual contests developing, particularly on the financial front, where candidates are struggling to show viability in one of the most difficult fundraising environments in living memory.
Southern Political Report has a useful summary up today of early fundraising numbers for southern gubernatorial races (omitting Alabama, where no public reporting is required until January of next year). The numbers that jump off the page are for the Republican primary grudge match in Texas, where incumbent Rick Perry and challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have a combined $22 million cash on hand. It’s also notable than in Florida Democrat Alex Sink seems to be currently outraising Republican Bill McCollum. And there are several multi-candidate primary fields (especially Republicans in GA, TN and SC) where dollars may soon separate contenders from pretenders. Two GOP gubernatorial candidates who had grass-roots right-wingers all astir at last weekend’s RedState gathering, Nikki Haley of SC and Karen Handel of GA, aren’t doing very well on the money front. Aside from the fact that they are women in a male-dominated party, they have the dubious distinction of being closely associated with term-limited incumbents.
This serves as a reminder that while national politics will have an effect on state races in 2010, few contests will really represent some sort of referendum on the Obama administration. States have their own very difficult issues, and the Republicans who currently govern FL, GA, SC, AL, and TX have their own problems with accountability for hard times. And as always, the ability to fund and create effective campaigns will matter more than it should.

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