Duncan Hunter is
accustomed to raising a cool million for his political
campaigns and dwarfing the fundraising efforts of his
When the Alpine Republican is running for re-election
to his 52nd Congressional District, that is.
In a bigger pond – the race for the GOP presidential
nomination – with much bigger fish, that sort of
money-raising prowess doesn't go far.
During the first three months of 2007, Hunter reported
raising $538,524 for his presidential bid and spending
about half that – $265,971. He had $272,552 left in his
campaign bank account, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog that tracks
money in politics and government.
Not bad for 12 weeks
On the other hand, Hunter is No. 8 out of 10 Republican
candidates in terms of how much money he raised in that
period, edging out former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson,
who raised $391,628, and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore,
who took in $203,896. Those figures are a blip compared
with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's $23 million,
former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's nearly $17
million and Arizona Sen. John McCain's $13 million.
On the bright side, Hunter has no debts. Better than
being $2.4 million in the hole, as Romney reports.
HUNTER CASH FACTOIDS
As ranking member of the House Armed Services
Committee, Hunter has drawn heavily from the defense
sector. The ZIP code that gave him the most money was in
La Jolla, whose residents sent him $17,250. The top-giving
sector: finance, insurance and real estate, which
contributed $37,750. His top single contributor: Milliken
& Co., a textile company with 13,000 employees and
headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., which contributed
The Center for Responsive Politics has a handy graph
allowing one to compare Hunter's week-by-week fundraising
progress with other candidates'.
The graph reveals that for almost all 12 weeks
beginning Jan. 1, Hunter has done consistently better at
fundraising than Gilmore or Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo.
From week to week, he either has raised more or about the
same as Thompson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee –
except from mid-to late March, when Huckabee's and
Thompson's fundraising efforts took off.
Hunter has gone back and forth with the likes of Kansas
Sen. Sam Brownback and Texas Rep. Ron Paul – sometimes
falling behind, sometimes pulling ahead, sometimes even.
Now on to the big boys, where the picture is – well you
can't really see the picture.
To be more precise, you can't really see the
violet-colored bar on this graph that represents Hunter's
fundraising, not when it is compared to the money raked in
by top-tier candidates. In a side-by-side graphic
comparison, one needs reading glasses to make out the
razor-thin line representing Hunter's contributions, which
sit beside the skyscraper-like bars representing the likes
of Romney, McCain and Giuliani.
“Hunter has proved a competitive fundraiser since he
was elected to represent California's 52nd District in
1981,” writes the Center for Responsive Politics. “But his
fundraising total in the first quarter was less than
remarkable compared to (those of) other candidates.”
EARNING THE REMARKABLE
Don't wave that quote in front of Roy Tyler, the
spokesman for Hunter's presidential campaign. An affable
sort, Tyler nonetheless bristles a bit when one asks about
the center's characterization of the congressman's
“I would say the Center for Responsive Politics' remark
was less than remarkable,” Tyler said, noting that the
campaign raised more than $500,000 with very little
national fundraising, and that Hunter's telemarketing,
mailing and Internet campaigns didn't kick off until after
the year's first quarter had ended. “How about a
disclosure from top-tier candidates on how much they spent
and how many high-priced consultants they had working in
the Spartanburg, S.C., straw poll compared to our
Tyler is referring to Hunter's strong results in
countywide Republican straw polls in South Carolina, where
some top-tier candidates spent hundreds of thousands of
Tyler added, “The remarkable news of this campaign may
be that voters actually prefer someone who earns their
respect, as opposed to buying it.”
Dana Wilkie is a
Washington-based correspondent for Copley News Service and
a longtime observer of California politics and social