TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback raised more than $1.6 million in cash contributions last year for his re-election and ended 2013 with nearly $2 million in campaign funds, a close ally of the Kansas Republican said Tuesday.
David Kensinger, who managed Brownback's successful 2010 campaign, said the figures show "genuine enthusiasm" among voters for the governor, as well as ongoing opposition to Democratic President Barack Obama. Brownback has been a vocal critic of the federal health care overhaul championed by Obama, and Brownback and other Kansas Republicans have used the president as a political foil in their GOP-leaning state.
The figures confirmed by Kensinger represent more than enough funds for a solid statewide campaign in Kansas. Candidates for governor, other statewide offices and the Legislature aren't required to file detailed finance reports covering last year's campaign activities until Friday.
"Gov. Brownback has earned the support of 10,000 donors, and this will be a big help in sharing the message of his accomplishments," Kensinger said. "It's not just money but what it represents."
Democratic challenger Paul Davis, the state House minority leader, launched his campaign in August and it hadn't publicly disclosed fundraising totals ahead of the filing deadline.
"Everybody knows Sam Brownback will have unlimited resources at his disposal in this campaign," Davis spokeswoman Haley Pollock said.
In 2009, Brownback raised more than $1.5 million and started 2010 with $1.06 million in cash on hand, ultimately spending $2.76 million on his campaign.
Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius entered her re-election year of 2006 with almost $1.75 million in cash on hand after raising nearly $2 million in 2005. She ultimately spent more than $5.4 million, a record.
But her first successful campaign for governor in 2002 had a slower start to her fundraising. It raised about $548,000 in 2001 and entered 2002 with about $558,000 in cash on hand, according to figures from the state Governmental Ethics Commission. She ultimately raised more than $4 million.
Reports going into an election year receive scrutiny because a state law prohibits candidates from accepting contributions from corporations or political action committees during the Legislature's annual, 90-day session, which begins in January.
"We will have what we need to be competitive," Pollock said of Davis' campaign.
Democrats make up fewer than 25 percent of the state's 1.7 million registered voters. To appeal to unaffiliated voters and moderate and liberal Republicans disaffected with the conservative GOP governor, Davis has made funding for public schools the key issue of the campaign.
Davis is a critic of the massive personal income tax cuts enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature at Brownback's urging. The governor and his allies expect the reductions to stimulate the economy, but Davis contends they'll starve schools of funds.
Brownback's campaign is seeking to tie Davis to Obama, a tactic that helped Republicans sweep all statewide and congressional races in 2010 for the first time since 1964. Kensinger noted that Davis was a delegate for Obama at national Democratic conventions in 2008 and 2012 and said the link has helped the governor's fundraising.
"It's both pro-Brownback and anti-Obama," Kensinger said.