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Online fundraiser nets senate candidate $172,000

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A political outsider who largely financed
his U.S. Senate primary race with Internet donations banked
$172,000 on Monday in his first Web-based fundraiser of the general
election season.
Republican Rand Paul received contributions from more than 2,000
people over a 24-hour period that ended at midnight, campaign
manager Jesse Benton said. The average donation, he said, was less
than $90.
"We think this shows strong grassroots support," Benton said
Tuesday.
The showing was far from Paul's best since he entered the race
last year. He had banked more than $1.2 million in a series of
Web-based fundraisers during the GOP primary. The largest of the
three, held last August, netted more than $400,000 in a 24-hour
period.
Paul faced a political backlash last month when he expressed
misgivings about the Civil Rights Act, suggesting that the federal
government should not have the power to force restaurants to serve
minorities if owners don't want to. University of Louisville
political scientist Laura Rhodebeck said that, along with a series
of other divisive comments, may have cost him some support.
"But I'm still convinced that there's a sizable part of his
constituency that likes what he's saying," Rhodebeck said. "They
like that kind of in-your-face attitude."
Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general and
a proven fundraiser, in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jim
Bunning.
By plying the Internet for campaign cash, Paul is using a
strategy that helped finance his father Ron Paul's 2008
presidential race. Ron Paul, a Texas congressman who ran
unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination, netted
an eye-catching $4.2 million in a single day.
The younger Paul banked $430,000 in the first of his online
fundraisers last year. In four subsequent Internet fundraisers, he
picked up an additional $800,000 total.
Paul has since turned to establishment Republicans for
fundraising help, flip-flopping on a campaign promise that he would
not accept money from lawmakers who voted for the bank bailout in
2008.
Nine of 12 lawmakers who hosted a private fundraiser last
Thursday for Paul at the National Republican Senatorial Committee
in Washington had voted for the $700 billion bank bailout. The Paul
campaign hasn't released the total raised from that event. Tickets
went for $1,000 per person, with sponsorships up to $5,000 per
group.
The Paul campaign was sending messages via e-mail on Monday
urging supporters to give. "Your generous donation of $100, $50,
$25 or even $10 dollars can make a difference," the messages read.
Conway campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley declined to comment.
"We'll let the pundits comment on whether or not Rand Paul's
fundraising ventures are successful," she said. "Jack Conway is
focused on creating jobs, reducing the deficit and bringing
accountability to Washington."
Paul reported raising just shy of $2.4 million between January
and March. Conway reported slightly more than $2.4 million in
contributions of the same period. In about two weeks, the
candidates will be required to file reports with the Federal
Election Commission detailing contributions received between April
and June.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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