Chris Clunie/Flickr2012 Republican hopefuls Mitt Romney (from left), Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty have all raised campaign money in California.
Mitt Romney already has figured it out. And if the other candidates in the Republican presidential field haven’t already, they will soon.
On the must-do list for aspiring presidential contenders, a fundraising swing up the California coast ranks somewhere between door-knocking in New Hampshire and grubbing on barbecue under the Iowa summer sun.
Romney wound down his own Golden State swing last week, no doubt drawing on many of the relationships he has established here during his political and business careers. But as campaign season begins to heat up, it’s worth pointing out that most of the other serious presidential contenders have California ties of their own.
From Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty to Ron Paul of Texas, it seems like every mainstream candidate for the Republican nomination has a healthy Republican Rolodex to call on as they gear up their fundraising operations in California, according to records from the Center for Responsive Politics and state-level campaign finance websites.
Romney, as we pointed out last week, has a clear edge, raising more than $8 million from Californians during his first bid for president in 2008 – more than he raised in any other state. But since their arrivals on the national stage, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Paul, a congressman, have also done well here.
Even Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, raised more than $60,000 from Californians during his gubernatorial campaigns. Here’s how the field breaks down, counting contributions they have received since 1998:
|Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts||$8,438,110||California was the largest contributor to Romney's presidential run in 2008. He also raised more than $100,000 here as governor.|
|Ron Paul, Texas congressman||$2,537,330||California has long been good to Paul, but especially so for his 2008 presidential bid, in which he raised more than $2 million.|
|Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator||$640,760||He raised modestly from California until his failed Senate re-election bid in 2006, when he raised more than $580,000.|
|Michele Bachmann, Minnesota congresswoman||$517,364||She has taken her largest haul from California starting in 2010, when she began scheduling fundraisers here.|
|Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House from Georgia||$65,911||This was just his total from 1998 -- the most recent year for which records were easily available -- but he clearly raised more in the years before.|
|Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota||$61,250||From his two bids for governor between 2002 and 2008.|
|Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah||$8,250||From his time as governor of Utah. We only counted four donations from Californians, the largest of which was a $5,000 contribution from Chevron.|
|Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico||Unknown||Online records from New Mexico don't go back far enough to check Johnson's time as governor, from 1994 to 2002.|
Interestingly, the candidate with the closest home base to California – Huntsman, the former Utah governor – raised the smallest amount from here during his statewide campaign. The largest share of his California cash came in the form of a $5,000 check from Chevron.
Paul, who, like Romney, ultimately lost his bid for the Republican nomination in 2008, saw a massive spike in his California fundraising after he ascended to the national stage. Santorum saw a similar boost during his contentious but ultimately failed Senate re-election bid in 2006.
Paul has done relatively well in California for years, counting the state among his top givers since at least 1998. But Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, was a relative unknown here until his re-election campaign.
Pawlenty’s national profile has grown substantially since 2008, when he started to be mentioned as a possible contender for the 2012 nomination. But Minnesota fundraising records show that, like Romney, he has been cultivating a healthy donor base here since long before he stepped onto the national stage.
Pawlenty served two terms as Minnesota governor from 2002 to 2010, during which time he raised $61,250 from California donors. Among those donors were Lowell Milken, brother of disgraced junk bond trader Michael Milken and a noted advocate of education reform.