AUSTIN — If a candidate's most reliable friend is ready money, as former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm once famously said, this is the week we judge the candidates for governor by the greenback buddies in their campaign chests.Gov. Rick Perry has $9.3 million cash on hand, including $4.2 million raised in just over a week (legally, he couldn't raise money most of this year because of the legislative session). It's a show of muscle that reveals the ability to fund crucial television advertising.U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison didn't face the same limits as she raised money to challenge him in the GOP primary; that means she faces big expectations for the report showing what she raised the first half of this year. She started the year with $7.8 million in hand, mostly transferred from her Senate campaign account.“The governor had nine days and did extremely well. ... She's had six months,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “She should have substantially more dollars.”With a big haul, she can buy TV time early and often. Without one, she'll fuel doubts from those already saying she's started slow.“If she blows him away, then it would cause people to sit up and take notice. She could start early, and having been quiet for so long, people will pay attention when she isn't quiet,” said professor of politics Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A relatively slight advantage in money alone won't mean a lot, he said: “Generally, if spending is going to pick the nominee, it's spending of 2-to-1 or 3-to-1. A couple of extra million in Texas doesn't mean all that much.” And as Democrat Tony Sanchez proved when he outspent Perry more than 2-to-1 in an unsuccessful 2002 effort to unseat him, even a big monetary advantage is no guarantee of success.
With 6500 donors, that either means a huge haul or a lot of money burned on direct mail. Maybe a little of both. Rick's peeps sort of took the air of the room when they released their numbers early.
I am also hearing that Kay will release an enormous number at 2 today.