Presidential dough rising throughout the Triangle | The Election Page | Indy Week
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Presidential dough rising throughout the Triangle 

(second of two parts)
Last week we ran through a list of local folks who are shoring up President Bush's re-election campaign with their personal wallets. (If you missed it, it's online at www.indyweek. com/durham/2004-03-03/election.html ) This week, even as the race narrows down to a Bush-Kerry face-off, we take a look at Triangle donors to the Democratic nominee hopefuls. These numbers come from the Center for Responsive Politics, which formats Federal Elections Commission reports into a user-friendly database at www.opensecrets.org.

The varied field of donors mirrors the variety of candidates in the race at the end of January, the reporting deadline that fell just after the Iowa caucus but before Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and hometown North Carolina candidate John Edwards dropped out.

Edwards, who bowed out March 3 after failing to win any Super Tuesday states, raised far and away the most Tar Heel dollars, with $1.6 million by Jan. 31.

The Raleigh trial attorney and first-term U.S. Senator collected more than four times as much cash from North Carolinians than all the other Democratic hopefuls combined. In every metro area except the Triad and Wilmington, Edwards also raised more money than the Republican incumbent he hoped to face in November.

Chapel Hill attorney Adam Stein spent part of this winter drumming up financial support for Edwards, traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire and phone-banking at Edwards' headquarters in Raleigh.

Much of Edwards' money has come from fellow lawyers, thanks in part to the solicitations of Stein, the former president of the N.C. Academy of Trial Laywers.

"You certainly go to the easiest places," says Stein, whose son, Josh, ran Edwards' 1998 senate campaign. "A lot of lawyers know John Edwards or know his work."

After Edwards won the South Carolina primary on Feb. 3, Stein saw a significant increase in local and national support.

"After that primary, the receptionist at headquarters was just writing out credit card slips," says Stein, who also gave Edwards the $2,000 max.

Triangle folks who put their faith--and their wallets--in Edwards' campaign include prominent local lawyers and business leaders.

Famed Chapel Hill defense attorney David Rudolf and his law partner Tom Maher both gave $2,000 each. Edwards also received $2,000 each from Clinton adviser and former U.S. Supreme Court solicitor general Walter Dellinger, and UNC-Chapel Hill law school Dean Gene Nichol, whom The News & Observer quoted as an expert in a front-page Feb. 23 story about lawyers contributing to Edwards' campaign--without disclosing their source was one. Local lawyers for Edwards also include Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. (And then, of course, there was $2,000 from that famous Raleigh plaintiff's attorney, John Edwards, and another $2,000 from his wife, Elizabeth.)

Triangle developers supporting Edwards' run include Chapel Hill's Roger Perry, who is also a UNC-Chapel Hill trustee, and Raleigh's Smedes York, the former mayor of the capital city.

Edwards garnered a lot of support from local media leaders, too. Capital Broadcasting's Jim Goodmon chipped in $2,000 in 2003 and another $1,000 two years earlier. The Daniels family, former owners of The News & Observer, supported Edwards' campaign directly, via donations from Frank Daniels Jr. and his wife, Julia, as well as multiple donations from their own pockets and daughter Lucy's to various PACs, including Edwards' New American Optimists and the Democratic Party of N.C.'s fund-raising arm. Interestingly, son Frank Daniels III diverged from the family path to put his money in Clark's coffers, giving the Oklahoma primary winner $2,000 in December 2003. (In the interest of full disclosure, we duly note that Indy company president and Durham resident Steve Schewel contributed $1,500 to Dean and $1,000 to Edwards.)

Dean, who left the race on Feb. 18, raised $157,836 in North Carolina, with a lot of his support coming from the Triangle, where he collected $62,755--more than all other candidates except Edwards and Bush. Notable Triangle Dean supporters include:

  • Former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, who gave $1,000 to Dean and $2,000 to Edwards
  • Durham growth-control advocate Steve Bocckino ($700)
  • Long-time Triangle environmental activist Hildegard Ryals ($500)
  • Senior citizen fitness guru
  • Marguerite Watson of Chapel Hill ($1,750)
  • Former Chapel Hill Town Councilman Jim Protzman ($500), who also gave $2,000 to Clark and $250 to moveon.org.

    Dems frontrunner and now de facto nominee John Kerry fell ninth among Democrat giving in North Carolina, with just $10,190--including only $2,100 from the Triangle.

    Because there's a lag between the Massachusetts senator's strong showing in early primaries and the donations rolling in, Kerry's coffers will probably bulk up by the time the next report is due this spring, says Steve Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics.

    "These numbers show a time when people considered Kerry's campaign to be dead in the water," says Weiss. "Everything can change when you win the Iowa caucuses, and Kerry did."

    Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who dropped out of the race on Feb. 11, raised about $55,000 in the Tar Heel state, including about $22,000 from Triangle donors. In addition to Frank Daniels III and Protzman, Clark's local supporters include Duke professor Robert Keohane , who gave him $1,000, and Chapel Hill writer Michael Reynolds, who donated $1,250.

    Rounding out the field of Dems, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich raised $13,572 from Tar Heel donors as of Jan. 31, the Rev. Al Sharpton, $9,950, and Lyndon Larouche, $25,705.

    And lastly, a word about soft money. When it comes to national PAC donors, there are a few heavyweights in our midst.

    On the Republican side, C. David Johnson, the proprietor of Raleigh's Johnson Lexus car dealership who's currently embroiled in a conflict over his new autopark in suburban Durham, donated $25,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in September 2003.

    Chapel Hill resident and Williams Foods CEO Conrad Hock Jr. has a long history of supporting conservative causes, including $50,000 to a California PAC opposing affirmative action in 1996 and steady checks in the $2,000 to $15,000 range to the Republican National Committee since 1999.

    But the Dems don't slouch: Raleigh mover and shaker Jeannette Hyde, a former ambassador to the Caribbean, gave the Democratic National Committee $10,000 last October, and gave Edwards' New American Optimists PAC $5,000 in 2001. Local philanthropist couple Laura Brader-Araje, a UNC-Chapel Hill mathematician, and her husband Michael, the founder of OpenSite Technologies, donated $25,000--each--to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in December 2003. EndBlock

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