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$7 Million

By Jeff Jones
Journal Politics Writer
    Gov. Bill Richardson has collected $7 million in presidential campaign cash the second quarter of the year, his campaign said Friday, surpassing the $6.2 million he raised in the first quarter.
    "We had said all along our goal was to beat the first-quarter number, and we've done that," campaign spokesman Pahl Shipley said. "We're very pleased."
    The new money came from more than 24,000 individual contributors around the nation, Shipley added, raising to more than 38,000 the total number of contributors to Richardson's presidential quest since he stepped into the race in late January.
    One independent political observer said Friday that Richardson's take in the second quarter— which officially draws to a close at midnight today— shows his campaign hasn't lost traction.
    "(It) shows he's certainly steady and not slipping in support," said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor and co-developer of the Pollster.com polling Web site.
    Richardson's take could put him closer to John Edwards, who is widely regarded as the third-place contender in the race for the Democratic nomination.
    According to Edwards' campaign Web site, he had raised just over $8.7 million as of Friday evening and was hoping to hit $9 million— a significant drop from the more than $14 million he posted in the first quarter.
    Meanwhile, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was expected to rake in around $27 million, while second-place candidate Barack Obama's take could go even higher.
    "There was a time we would think a total take of $13 million in the first half of the year ... would have been great," Franklin said. But he added that, with the record numbers raised by the top two, Richardson would "disappear" in national media coverage about the Democratic money race.
    The frantic dash for presidential cash has become a perceived bellwether of the strength— or weakness— of any given candidate's campaign.
    Richardson's first-quarter take of $6,249,355 was far behind that of Clinton ($26 million) and Obama ($25 million). But Richardson's money numbers were ahead of others said to share the so-called second tier with him: Chris Dodd raised $4 million in the first quarter, while Joe Biden managed just $2 million.
    However, the figures don't allow for an apples-to-apples comparison due to the way Richardson has chosen to collect his campaign cash.
    Under federal rules, an individual can contribute up to $2,300 per candidate for the primary and caucus campaign and another $2,300 for the general election race.
    Clinton, Obama and Edwards have opted to accept all $4,600 upfront from willing donors, although they can't spend half of that money unless or until they win the nomination.
    Richardson has opted to take only the $2,300 limit, which would allow him to collect another $2,300 from each of his contributors if he were to score the nomination.
    Specifics on who gave to Richardson in the second quarter— and where those donors hail from— aren't due to the Federal Election Commission until mid-July, when they will become public record.
    More than $2.8 million of Richardson's first-quarter take came from New Mexico contributors.
    One political expert has said candidates initially reach out to their known, reliable supporters in the first quarter, adding that the second-quarter figure is a more reliable measurement of fundraising capacity.
    While Richardson raised more in the second round, he had significantly more time to do it: In the first quarter, his money didn't start flowing until his late-January candidacy announcement, and he was busy with the annual legislative session, which wound up in March.
    "For a candidate like Richardson, a governor who's not run a national campaign before, having steady money coming in in the second quarter does indicate he didn't just go to the friends he had and tap them out," Franklin said.
    "If all of these campaigns are going to sustain such high spending levels," he added, "they're going to have to be able to tap an ever-expanding donor base."
    Like the other campaigns, the Richardson camp's sprint for cash continued late into the week:
    In an e-mail to supporters Thursday, campaign manager Dave Contarino said the camp was aiming to raise $2 million this week alone and asked them to dash off a check.
    "Give Bill what it takes to win— he'll take it from there," Contarino urged in the letter.

E-MAIL writer Jeff Jones