By DAVID A. LIEB
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has built up a considerable cash advantage for a 2012 re-election campaign, more than tripling the amount of money raised in the past three months by his potential challenger, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Finance figures released Monday show Nixon received about $1.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions during the past quarter, easily outdistancing the $455,522 in cash and in-kind contributions reported by Kinder. As of Sept. 30, the Democratic governor had more than $4.2 million in his campaign account. Kinder, a Republican, had a little less than $1.6 million in his account.
The past fundraising quarter was a pivotal one for Kinder, who delayed an official announcement of his candidacy after August media reports that he had frequented an Illinois strip club when he was a state senator in the mid-1990s. Kinder said in late August that he wanted to reassess his support before officially entering the race.
Kinder raised just half the amount of money in the third quarter of 2011 as he had the previous quarter. And his $516,592 of expenditures during the third quarter exceeded what he raised, with much of the costs attributed to polling and political research.
Yet Kinder may have raised enough to reassure his inclination to run. About two-thirds of his cash came in during September, after widespread media coverage about his strip club visits.
"The campaign's robust fundraising in the month of September is the news Peter Kinder's campaign needed, and because of that news, he's ready to make a formal announcement next month" about the gubernatorial race, said Kinder campaign adviser Rich Chrismer. He did not have a specific date for that announcement.
Kinder's quarterly dip in fundraising allowed Nixon to widen his cash advantage in the governor's race, which could provide him with a greater ability to run advertisements as the election draws near. This was the second consecutive fundraising quarter in which Nixon raised about $1.5 million. His campaign said that money came from about 1,200 different donors, which it said showed his breadth of support and "demonstrates clear momentum as the election year approaches."
Several of Nixon's largest contributions came from law firms that represent plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits against businesses. Nixon received $100,000 from the St. Louis law firm of Carey Danis & Lowe, and $50,000 each from the Kansas City law firm of Dollar, Burns & Becker and the Lexington office of the Langdon & Emison law firm. He also received $50,000 from the United Auto Workers political action committee in Hazelwood.
Kinder received two $50,000 contributions - one from wealthy Missouri businessman and political activist Rex Sinquefield; the other from the Lewis and Clark Regional Leadership Fund, a St. Charles-based political action committee that has raised money from various business interests. Campaign finance reports show the firm of Cape Girardeau political consultant David Barklage has been paid to manage the committee. Barklage also is a campaign consultant for Kinder.
Also notable was one item not listed on Kinder's campaign report. After the August media accounts about Kinder's strip club visits, Joplin businessman David Humphreys - who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Kinder - requested that his donations be returned. But Kinder's report shows that has not happened. It's unclear if Humphreys still wants a refund. Chrismer said only that Kinder met with Humphreys in September.