WASHINGTON — Despite a late entrance into the Republican presidential primary, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reported an impressive $17.2 million in campaign donations from his Aug. 13 announcement through the end of September, according to a disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday. A closer look at the numbers brings out some worrying signs for the one-time GOP front-runner.
The Perry campaign raised more money in the third quarter than that of the presumptive front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by a margin of $3 million and currently has more than $15 million cash on hand to lead the Republican pack. The haul is all the more striking as it came in just a month and a half, while Romney and the other candidates had a full three months to raise their third-quarter totals.
Like Romney, Perry is suffering from an inability to raise money from a broad base of supporters, usually measured by the number of small-dollar donors. Perry raised $13.4 million of his $17.2 million from donors giving between $2,500 and $5,000. He only raised $698,820 from donors giving less than $200, which was 4 percent of his total contributions, the lowest percentage for any current presidential candidate.
Perry is also largely reliant on money from Texas. He gathered $9.7 million from his home state, 56 percent of his total. While Texas is the breadbasket of campaign money for Republican politicians generally, Perry may have to broaden his base outside the state.
Employees of some companies close to the governor gave big to his campaign. Those working for the accounting firm Brint Ryan, a Perry backer also affiliated with the pro-Perry super PAC Make Us Great Again, donated a total of $152,800. USAA employees, mostly located in Texas, gave $44,000 to the Perry campaign. The USAA contributions were likely facilitated by company lobbyist Dan Brouillette, who reported bundling $77,000 for Perry’s campaign. Other big totals from a single company’s employees include $32,500 from Contran Corp., owned by major GOP and Perry donor Harold Simmons, and $40,500 from Ernst & Young.
Since entering the race to huge fanfare and rocketing to the top of the polls, Perry has fallen back to earth hard. He has come under attack from the left for his Social Security views, from the right for his vaccine and immigration policies, and from the media and pundits for appearing somnolent and incoherent in the GOP debates. Perry now hugs a giant war chest while treading water among second-tier candidates like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
If Perry’s fundraising numbers drop in the fourth quarter, he will still have more money than most of his competition and help from the unlimited-money super PACs backing his campaigns. The $15 million on hand will help bring his message to the public through advertising and direct mail. He’ll just have to hope that voters still want to listen to what he has to say.
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