FRANKFORT — Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo says he raised $302,993 in the past three months for his U.S. Senate bid, about $1 million less than his main Democratic rival raised during the same time period.
To date, Mongiardo has raised more than $732,546 and has $485,866 on hand, according to a news release from the Mongiardo campaign.
Meanwhile, incumbent U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, R-Southgate, did not publicly release his campaign numbers on Wednesday, the day reports for the second quarter were due to the Federal Election Commission. The report covers April 1 to June 30.
Mongiardo trails the other main Democratic challenger, Attorney General Jack Conway, in the race to raise money.
Conway recently announced he raised a little more than $1.3 million, about four times as much as Mongiardo during the same time period.
Mark Riddle, a campaign strategist for Conway, said Mongiardo’s inability to bring in money shows that “he is not a viable candidate for Senate.”
“He couldn’t raise money in 2004 and lost to an inept U.S. Senator,” Riddle said.
But Donald Gross, a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky who specializes in campaign finance, said Conway needed big numbers to show that he could take on Mongiardo. Mongiardo has more name recognition statewide thanks to his 2004 U.S. Senate race and to the 2007 governor’s race.
“In some sense, both individuals got what they needed,” Gross said. “In an ideal world, it’s going to be an open race.”
The Hazard doctor’s camp touted Mongiardo’s ability to raise money outside Conway’s home town of Louisville.
According to a news release, 90 percent of Mongiardo’s money was raised from about 1500 contributors in Kentucky. Eighty-six percent of Mongiardo’s money was raised outside Louisville.
Conway only raised 40 percent of his money outside Louisville, the Mongiardo campaign claims. But Riddle countered that Conway out-raised Mongiardo outside Jefferson County during the second quarter by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Kim Geveden, a Mongiardo campaign adviser, skewered Conway for going outside Kentucky to tap potential donors.
“It’s no surprise Jack Conway has significant financial support from his east-end Louisville neighbors and friends in New York and Los Angeles,” Geveden said. “Daniel doesn’t need to raise as much money as Jack because Daniel has a 20-point lead.”
Geveden was apparently referencing an internal poll the campaign released in late May that showed Mongiardo leading Conway by 15 points. No independent polling on the Democratic primary has been publicly released.
Conway’s campaign has consistently said that in order to run a campaign in one of the most widely watched U.S. Senate races in the country, a successful candidate has to raise money from outside Kentucky.
Bunning’s office did not return calls seeking comment about his fund-raising efforts this quarter. Bunning has said that he expects to have more cash on hand than other Republican candidates. Bunning raised $262,980 in the first quarter of this year and had $375,747 on hand at the end of March.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who has formed an exploratory committee but has not said whether he will run, announced recently that he has raised more than $600,000 for the race. Other Republican contenders include Bowling Green ophthalmologist Dr. Rand Paul and Bill Johnson, a Todd County Navy veteran and businessman.
Darlene Fitzgerald Price, a former U.S. Customs agent, has said she plans to run in the May primary for the Democratic nomination. Fitzgerald Price has said she has raised about $15,000 so far.
– Beth Musgrave