Struggling to raise money in Florida for his fledgling U.S. Senate campaign, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre is looking out of state — to Puerto Rico.
Ferré, 74, who was born on the island and stayed involved in politics there, has already attended one reception in Puerto Rico, and said he hopes to have four more events there by the end of this year. Until Wednesday, his website gave an e-mail address for a campaign fundraising headquarters in Puerto Rico: SanJuanHQ@Ferré2010.com.
Ferré's major Democratic rival is U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, who got a nine-month head start and has about $2.67 million in the bank. "I have not raised very much so far," Ferré acknowledged. "Fundraising is not easy, and Kendrick was way ahead of the game."
In a sign of the political muscle Ferré is up against, former President Bill Clinton headlined his fifth fundraiser for Meek on Tuesday in New York.
While statewide candidates typically supplement their campaigns by working political circuits outside of Florida, a fundraising operation based in Puerto Rico is unusual -- though perfectly legal because it is a U.S. territory. Members of Congress from John Mica of Florida to Don Young of Alaska have traveled to Puerto Rico to raise money, Ferré said. "In addition to there being Republicans and Democrats, there is the divide between pro-statehood and non-statehood Puerto Ricans, and I am trying to work all four sides," Ferré quipped.
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