story by Ryan Saylor
Editor's note: Following has been updated to include information on a new television ad released by the Mike Ross' gubernatorial campaign on Wednesday (Jan. 15). It is the campaign's second television ad of the 2014 campaign.
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross' campaign is starting to sound like a broken record after the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor announced fundraising figures for the fourth quarter of 2013 and a record-breaking 2013.
During the fourth quarter, Ross raised more than $550,000. The figure is about $100,000 more than Republican frontrunner Asa Hutchinson announced Friday (Jan. 10), making the closest fundraising quarters between the two campaigns.
Including the amount raised during the fourth quarter, Ross raised more then $3.6 million in 2013, more than double all of his opponents combined, according to a press release announcing the fundraising haul.
The total represents a new record number raised by a candidate for governor in a calendar year, the campaign said. The record was previously held by current Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who raised $2.39 million in 2005, according to Ross' deputy campaign manager for finance Dustin Smith.
Ross said donations to his campaign had come from across the state, showing his campaign's "energy and enthusiasm."
“Holly and I are blessed by the outpouring of support we continue to receive from every corner of this state, and I am very proud that Arkansans continue to show energy and enthusiasm for our campaign focused on Arkansas’s future,” said Ross. “I’m running for governor to build on Governor Beebe’s legacy of strengthening education, creating good-paying jobs and cutting taxes for working families – all while maintaining this state’s balanced budget.”
Ross, who has about $2.508 million cash on hand, has started a marketing campaign aimed at introducing the former 4th District congressman to the state, including commercials featuring Beebe and a new television ad introduced late Wednesday entitled "Meet Mike." It was a point made by Smith in the campaign's fundraising announcement Wednesday (Jan. 15).
“Our campaign is beginning to introduce Mike on a much larger scale and we are investing early in infrastructure and voter identification as we continue to build one of the largest, most effective grassroots campaigns in state history,”said Smith. “Mike Ross begins 2014 with a cash advantage of more than $1 million over his opponents and he has strong momentum in the polls. We have exceeded all of our fundraising goals, have signed up more than 7,500 volunteers representing every single county in Arkansas and we are well-positioned to sustain our momentum all the way to victory on Election Day.”
The ad released Wednesday highlights Ross' support of the 2nd Amendment and his votes against Obamacare while in Congress, according to Jarrod Yates, Ross for Governor campaign manager.
“Mike Ross is a pro-gun Democrat who voted against Obamacare four times and voted to repeal the law 23 times, and he was consistently rated by National Journal as one of the most independent Members of Congress. So, we wanted to highlight his independence and common sense voting record in this new ad,” Yates said. “Mike’s parents were both public school educators and he and his wife, Holly, were small business owners, which is why education and job creation are top priorities for our campaign. As 2014 gets underway, we will continue to introduce Mike to more and more voters as we move forward with building one of the largest, most effective grassroots campaigns in Arkansas political history.”
Hutchinson has not begun advertising on a large scale, instead saving much of the donations he has raised for use later in the campaign. The former 3rd District congressman only spent $150,000 during the last quarter, leaving the campaign with about $1.3 million cash on hand, about 80% of the funds he has raised during his campaign.
Republican Curtis Coleman, a businessman from North Little Rock who is challenging Hutchinson in the primary, is expected to release his fundraising totals for the fourth quarter later Wednesday. Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, who is also challenging Hutchinson, has not indicated when her fundraising totals would be reported.
This story will be updated later today if other fundraising reports are released.