Dean Gains Ground in Money From D.C. Insiders

Posted October 31, 2003 at 5:23pm

Though running for president as an outsider, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is receiving an increasing share of his financial support from inside the Beltway.

Recently released fundraising figures show that Dean has garnered a greater percentage of his campaign funds from party insiders than President Bush, even though the GOP incumbent currently occupies the White House.

From Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to former Democratic National Committee moneyman Steve Grossman, nearly one-third of Dean’s mega-fundraisers are inside-the-Beltway players.

In contrast, less than one in 10 of Bush’s so-called fundraising “Rangers” and “Pioneers” are Washington insiders, according to an analysis of fundraising data.

The figures, coupled with Dean’s impressive list of endorsements, indicate that Dean may rely slightly more on support from Washington than his outsider status implies.

“We’re certainly proud of the support that we have gotten from Democrats with strong ties to the party,” said Tricia Enright, a spokeswoman for the Dean campaign. But she stressed that most of Dean’s financial backing comes from “folks who can’t raise $50,000 to $100,000.”

Dean’s campaign also points out that the Bush campaign has hauled in far more money from his top fundraisers — who pledge to bundle contributions of $50,000, $100,000 or more from hundreds of smaller donors — than Dean during the first nine months of the campaign.

Overall, the president still enjoys a whopping fundraising advantage in Washington.

Lofgren is the only Member who has broken into the ranks of top fundraisers for Dean. Lofgren raised $250,000 for Dean at a single event at her home in California. The Congresswoman noted that “people are very interested” in donating money and time to the Dean campaign.

More than 1,300 Democrats turned out for her afternoon fundraiser, about half paying $100 for an event in her garden. The other half shelled out $1,000 apiece to get inside.

Lofgren said she is interested in hosting another fundraiser for Dean, but she has not been asked to do so yet.

Among Dean’s other top fundraisers are Don Beyer, a former candidate for governor of Virginia; Sheldon Whitehouse, an attorney general in Rhode Island; Terry Lierman, a lobbyist who ran for Congress against then-Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) in 2000; and Pam Eakes, a co-chairwoman of Dean’s fundraising team and a DNC insider.

Given the strength he has shown at the grassroots level, Dean also has drawn in a number of Democratic fundraisers who have not been as active recently, including San Francisco’s Mary and Steven Swig and Chicago political strategist Kevin Conlin.

“Some of the folks haven’t been around for a while and they are coming back because of Howard,” said Lynn Cutler, a lobbyist with Holland & Knight and longtime Dean supporter.

According to figures provided by their campaigns, Bush has raised $38 million, or 45 percent, of his $85 million total take from large fundraisers charged with soliciting checks from friends, business partners and neighbors.

Dean has raised just $2.1 million, or 8 percent, of his $25 million from mega-fundraisers.

But among the party insiders, Dean appears to have an edge over Bush, at least as a percentage.

Of the $2.1 million brought in by Dean’s mega-fundraisers, $650,000 — or 31 percent — has come from Washington insiders.

Meanwhile, just 9 percent of Bush’s funds — $3.6 million of the $38 million — comes from Members of Congress and other GOP loyalists.