Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Harold Ford Jr. Nearly Outraises All Three GOP Candidates Combined

Wow, this is really amazing! Last quarter Congressman Ford rasied $1.5 million, which was almost as much as Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, and Bob Corker raised all together.

I don't think there is any disputing who the frontrunner in this race is now:

Candidates in the U.S. Senate race have raised more than $15 million so far, and Memphis Democrat Harold Ford Jr.'s fundraising since Jan. 1 is nearly that of the three leading Republican contenders combined.

Ford has amassed $5.7 million in all funds reported, while Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, leads his two Republican rivals by bringing in $5.5 million, according to their financial reports.

Republican Van Hilleary of Murfreesboro has raised $1.82 million, while Ed Bryant of Jackson posted $1.77 million, their campaign reports said. Both men are former U.S. House members.

Ford raised $1.5 million during the first three months of the year, his campaign said. In the same first quarter, the Republicans combined raised slightly more than that, Corker reporting $770,000; Hilleary $412,355; and Bryant $355,806.

The Senate race to succeed U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is expected to be one of the costliest in Tennessee history. Ford has already aired three television commercials, while Corker plans to spend about $1 million next month on his own TV ads.

Ford lost his major opponent in the Democratic primary last week when state Sen. Rosalind Kurita of Clarksville announced she was withdrawing. She raised just under $650,000 in her campaign, bringing in about $125,000 during the first quarter, spokeswoman Anastasia Apa said.

Her departure leaves Ford as the only major contender in the Democratic primary. Four other Democrats, one other Republican and several independents have also filed as candidates.

"Republicans for a long time in Tennessee have had a tremendous advantage when it comes to fundraising," said Charles Robert Bone, Ford's finance chairman. "The fact that we can keep pace in this election and in the first quarter nearly eclipsed all three combined, I think is remarkable."

Corker, meanwhile, has the most cash on hand with $4.22 million. Ford reported $2.2 million cash on hand.

"The fact that we have raised what they (Bryant and Hilleary) have raised combined shows that people are already choosing Bob Corker," said Ben Mitchell, Corker's campaign manager.
The primary is Aug. 3. The general election is Nov. 7. •