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McCrory boasts big funding lead in gubernatorial race

Posted April 30, 2012 6:16 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2012 6:51 p.m. EDT

Money

— With a week to go until North Carolina's primary, Republican Pat McCrory is far ahead of any of the candidates on the Democratic ballot in terms of money stockpiled for the general election.

McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor who is expected to easily win the Republican nomination for governor, raised $1.7 million in the first three months of this year and was holding a Monday night fundraiser at The Angus Barn restaurant featuring former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

While McCrory dines on steak with the $3.1 million in cash his campaign has on hand, the leading Democratic candidates are at the equivalent of a hamburger joint.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton raised $650,000 during the first quarter and now has about $670,000 in cash on hand. Former Congressman Bob Etheridge raised more than $310,000 since he entered the race two months ago. Orange County Rep. Bill Faison's campaign finance report wasn't yet available late Monday.

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file their first-quarter finance reports.

"The campaigns are clearly about who's able to raise the most money," Democratic consultant Brad Crone said. "You're going to see that advantage come out in the summer because (McCrory is) going to have the available resources to get on TV and define the Democrats."

The Democrats are at a financial disadvantage because Gov. Beverly Perdue's late decision not to run for re-election left them little time to build campaign war chests, political observers said, adding that they are essentially spending what comes in.

Democratic consultant Gary Pearce called the deficit an "insurmountable obstacle" and said "it will be impossible to make up the gap."

McCrory said he expects that the state and national Democratic Party will eventually pour a lot of money into the gubernatorial election. He said he learned during his loss to Perdue in 2008 of the need to start raising money early.

"I was outspent by Gov. Perdue three to one, and that did not include then-Sen. (Barack) Obama's money that came to North Carolina, which estimates say was well over $20 million," McCrory said.

He said he didn't know how much The Angus Barn dinner would bring in – seats cost from $500 to $8,000 – but added with a smile, "I hope it helps."