For much of the gubernatorial campaign, Republican Chris Dudley
enjoyed a massive fundraising lead over Democrat John Kitzhaber
Dudley tapped connections from his 16-year NBA career, large out-of-state donors as well as wealthy Oregonians
and their companies in impressive fashion for a first-time candidate. One local forest products company, Stimson Lumber
, gave the rookie candidate $510,000. But in the campaign's final couple of weeks, Kitzhaber closed the money gap dramatically.
As of today, Dudley's fundraising total for 2010, including the funds left from 2009, comes to $10.2 million. That's a new record for an Oregon governor's race and there still may be some last-minute checks to be reported.
But Kitzhaber, who got off to a very slow fund-raising start, is up to $7.2 million in money raised in 2010 and funds left over from last year. Add another $975,000 that the Oregon Education Association spent on Kitzhaber's behalf through an independent expenditure committee, Quality Education for Oregon, and Kitzhaber's available funds total nearly $8.2 million. Kitzhaber's campaign staff aimed to keep the fundraising gap to no wider than two-to-one and they certainly achieved that goal.
What those numbers do not capture—and what may have put Kitzhaber over the top by the narrowest of margins, 16,770 votes according to the latest tally—was the volunteer efforts of union groups including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT-Oregon, OEA and SEIU and interest groups including the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and Basic Rights Oregon.
According to the Democratic Party of Oregon those groups made 446,000 phone contacts and more importantly, knocked on 303,000 doors. The GOP also has a sophisticated phone-banking operation but Democrats continue to have an advantage in terms of groups that can mobilize large numbers of people to hit the streets.