Perry falling in polls, leading in fundraising

October 5, 2011 5:17:25 PM PDT
Texas Governor Rick Perry may have lost the lead in the polls, but he is definitely number one when it comes to fundraising.

Perry pulled in more than $17 million in his first seven weeks in the race. That number is especially impressive given that it represents only a portion of the third quarter, and it indicates that Perry has the fundraising wherewithal to stay in the race for the long term.

The governor came out of the gate seven weeks ago on fire. Almost instantly, he shot to the top of the GOP list of contenders and then the campaign faltered. The last couple of weeks have been rough ones with gaffes both in and out of Perry's control. But these financial numbers could relight the flame.

"I think it puts him in a strong position," said Kier Murray with Houston-based KLM Consulting. "He's got to turn the momentum around. I think with Chris Christie passing on the race, we largely see a set field for the Republican nomination now and so it's come down to who is going to be the last person standing against Mitt Romney."

Perry's campaign, in fact, took control of the story, releasing the numbers early, pushing Romney's campaign to admit their quarter wasn't as fruitful as Perry's. But Adam Harris with Horizon Strategies says that's to be expected.

"The early money is the easiest money. That's the guys that already know they're gonna write you a check real easy," said Harris, who ran Houston Mayor Annise Parker's 2009 campaign.

Harris has his own consulting business now and says Perry has shown he can compete nationally. More than half of his money came from outside of Texas and in small increments. But it's just a start.

"Seventeen million dollars in 49 days is not shabby," Harris said. "Compare that $17 million to the $750 million that the president raised in 2008 and you see there is a wide disparity."

But right now, the fundraising is about the primary season, and as the chair of political science at Rice University told us, it takes money to raise money.

"I think a lot of donors will read into this that Rick Perry is a serious candidate. And it really helps put a gap between Perry and all of the other social conservative candidates," said Mark Jones with Rice U.

Perry's next chance to keep the momentum going is next week at a Republican contender debate in New Hampshire.

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