Political insiders often say, "Early money is like yeast," when it comes to winning an election. Sound vaguely gross? Yes. True? Not always.

Having started months ahead of any other Democrat in the contest to be the party's nominee for U.S. Senate, Portland lawyer Steve Novick had the campaign field to himself last year from April until August. During that time he was rapidly raising early money—and his profile.

But then Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D-Portland) entered the race in August, and he has since raised far more cash than Novick heading into the May 20 primary.

As of Dec. 31, the latest deadline for reporting campaign contributions, Merkley had collected more than $900,000, compared with Novick's $540,000, according to Federal Elections Commission filings.

So how did Merkley do it?

Well, he's raised $120,000 from political action committees, compared with $850 for Novick.

And an analysis of the itemized individual contributions to both campaigns shows Merkley has done better with out-of-state donors in amassing his advantage over Novick.

Novick's ratio of in-state to out-of-state contributions among individuals donating at least $200 is nearly 2 to 1.

Merkley's over-$200 contributions are almost evenly divided between Oregonians and out-of-state contributors.

Before the next round of campaign-finance reporting on April 15, here's a look at the notable names backing Merkley and Novick so far with their bread:

• Bob Ball

, developer

• Eileen Brady

, New Seasons

• Michael Powell

, bibliophile

• Brian Rohter

, New Seasons (Brady's hubby)

• Alan Tresidder

, lobbyist

• George Soros

, billionaire Democratic philanthropist

• Carolyn Tomei

, state rep

• Charles Hinkle

, attorney for

The Oregonian
• Barbra Streisand

, "Funny Girl"

• Rex Burkholder

, Metro councilor

• Larry Galizio

, state rep

• Nancy Hamilton

, former chief of staff for Mayor Tom Potter

• Charles Manatt

, former chair of the DNC

• Hardy Myers

, Oregon attorney general

• Mary Nolan

, state rep

• Steven Marks

, former chief of staff to ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber, congressional candidate

• Tina Kotek

, state rep

• Catherine Thomasson

, Physicians for Social Responsibility

• George Eighmey

, assisted-suicide advocate

• Eric Lemelson

, winemaker

• Alan Tresidder

, lobbyist

• Leland Larson

, Dignity Village funder

• Fred Miller

, retired PGE executive

• Bob Ball

, developer

• Maria Rojo de Steffey

, Multnomah County Commissioner

• Rex Burkholder

, Metro councilor

• Mary Ellen Glynn

, former spokeswoman Gov. Ted Kulongoski

• Tim Nesbitt

, former AFL-CIO leader, deputy chief of staff for the Gov.

• Mike Golub

, Portland Trail Blazers executive

• Scott Ballo

, ex-Democratic Party operative, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor, child-porn

• George Eighmey

, assisted-suicide advocate

• Margie Goldschmidt

, ex-wife of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt

• Melissa Kardon

, wife of Josh Kardon, chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden

• Donald Mazziotti

, former CEO of PDC

• Erik Sten

, city commissioner

• Les AuCoin

, former Democratic congressman

• Charles Hinkle

, attorney for

The Oregonian


for a look at

Sen. Gordon Smith's contributors