The cash hasn't stopped flowing for House Republicans at the Capitol, despite leadership strife earlier this year. Republican candidates have raised more than $2 million for this year's House elections, outpacing the Democratic minority by a 3-1 margin, according to an analysis of state Ethics Commission data. The candidates are much more even in the Senate, where each side so far has raised more than $1.3 million. The Senate is evenly split, with each party claiming 24 seats. The totals do not include money raised by separate political action committees. A large campaign war chest helps in the early part of any election cycle, said Richard Johnson, chairman of the political science department at Oklahoma City University. "Early money is always more valuable because of the psychological impacts on what other people choose to do,” he said. With a 57-44 Republican edge in the House and a tied Senate, the early fundraising totals are in line with expectations, Johnson said. The House's top fundraiser, Rep. Lance Cargill, has raised more than $281,500 for his campaign. Cargill resigned as House speaker Jan. 28 after revelations that he had not filed income tax returns for two years and was late in filing property taxes on his law office. For the first quarter, the Harrah Republican raised more than $32,000 for his campaign. All but one donation came in January, according to campaign finance reports. But Cargill spent at more than all candidates — more than $56,400 in the quarter ended March 31. Much of that was spent on travel expenses, consulting and legal fees. He declined to say if the legal fees were connected to a pending Ethics Commission fundraising complaint about the 2004 elections. Cargill has denied wrongdoing in that matter. "I consult lawyers and accounting professionals to make sure we're trying to operate consistent with the rules,” he said Friday. "As for my ability to raise money, people across the state have voted for change and want to see our conservative reform agenda continue.” Cargill's replacement, House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, reported $5,575 in first-quarter contributions. He transferred more than $50,000 from a previous committee.
Democrats not surprisedState Democratic Party Chairman Ivan Holmes said he's not surprised by the Republican lead in House fundraising. One of his priorities is to recruit Democratic candidates for legislative races. Earlier this week, Gov. Brad Henry attended a House Democrats fundraiser that Holmes said brought in about $150,000. Rep. Trebor Worthen, R-Oklahoma City, said House leadership turmoil earlier this year didn't affect fundraising. In the Senate, Tulsa Democrat Tom Adelson led legislative candidates for the quarter and the campaign cycle. He brought in more than $144,000 in the first quarter. To date, the first-term senator has received almost $369,000. That includes a $275,000 personal campaign loan made last summer. Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, has raised more than $200,000 for his 2008 campaign. Following closely was Republican James Halligan, who is expected to file for the seat being vacated by term-limited Democrat Mike Morgan of Stillwater. Candidates for statewide election are set to file for office June 2-4.
Capitol war chestsThe top five campaign receipts so far among Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate for the 2008 campaign cycle:
House RepublicansLance Cargill, R-Harrah: $281,512 Dennis Adkins, R-Tulsa: $265,395 Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher: $183,530* Mike Thompson, R-Oklahoma City: $110,747 Greg Piatt, R-Ardmore: $89,775
House DemocratsRichard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City: $73,610 Lucky Lamons, D-Tulsa: $56,423 Wes Hilliard, D-Sulphur: $40,900 Chuck Hoskin, D-Vinita: $39,639 Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa: $37,832
Senate RepublicansJonathan Nichols, R-Norman: $200,340 James Halligan, open Stillwater seat: $197,397 Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa: $124,923 Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City: $97,070 Clark Jolley, R-Edmond: $93,356
Senate DemocratsTom Adelson, D-Tulsa: $368,988 Susan Paddack, D-Ada: $354,929 Nancy Riley, D-Tulsa: $141,501 Charlie Laster, D-Shawnee: $127,237 Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne: $103,035 Note: Rep. Rob Johnson transferred $164,300 from his House committee to another for his state Corporation Commission race. Source: The Oklahoman analysis of Ethics Commission data