LEXINGTON, kY. &MDASH; While U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may have a commanding lead in the polls in Kentucky, her Democratic presidential rival, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, has raised more money in the state.
Obama has collected $847,405 from Kentuckians compared to $625,976 Clinton has brought in, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, through March. The campaigns' updated reports through April are due Tuesday — the day Kentuckians vote in the primary.
Many donors to Obama say they rarely, if ever, give to political candidates.
"I just think that Obama is the most exciting candidate I've seen in my lifetime," said Nathan Cryder, 32, executive director of Lexington-based Global Gain Inc., a consulting firm aimed at addressing social problems and poverty.
"His leadership style and oratory skills is just the type that inspires," said Cryder, who gave $78 to Obama in March. "Clinton supporters will support her but they're not energized enough to give substantial amounts of money."
Michael de Bourbon, a Pikeville lawyer whose only other political contribution was to Democrat Ben Chandler's 2003 run for governor, said he hasn't seen a candidate like Obama since John F. Kennedy.
"I very much like him because I think he's a politician of conviction," he said.
With likely Republican nominee John McCain doing little fund-raising in Kentucky so far, garnering about $170,000, Obama has raised more from the Bluegrass state than McCain and Clinton combined.
But Clinton will get an influx of cash from Kentucky this weekend, as Mary Lee Smith, who is married to Kentucky Democratic Party Vice Chairman Nathan Smith, hosts a fund-raiser for Clinton's campaign.
Nathan Smith will be one of Kentucky's nine superdelegates at the Democratic National Convention in August and has so far remained uncommitted. He said the event at his Fort Mitchell home doesn't signal that he's decided to back Clinton.
"It does not," he said, adding that his wife has long been a staunch Clinton backer. "When they asked my wife to have a fund-raiser for her, she was delighted."
Clinton also is attracting newly politically active supporters.
Robin Finkelstein, who owns consulting company Market Insight Inc. in Louisville, said that this election is the first time she's volunteered for any campaign and that Clinton is only the second candidate to whom she's donated.
Finkelstein gave three times for a total of $450, including a $100 check Tuesday after Clinton's landslide win in West Virginia.
"Can we count on you for another donation after Tuesday?" asked Tennessee superdelegate Vicky Harwell, whom Finkelstein escorted to Frankfort for Clinton's rally.
"Absolutely," Finkelstein responded.