Last week, Mr. Wolford from the Naples Daily News game me a call and we talked about Cain (pre-Presidency V win) and Bachmann (pre-Presidency V disaster). We discussed the often overlooked, fundraising power in Naples.
They’ve been good to me down there and it’s always great to speak to them.
By BEN WOLFORD
Friday, September 23, 2011
NAPLES — For Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, Naples is a buttress of financial support alongside other, much bigger, gold mines like Houston and Atlanta.
The small but wealthy Naples metropolitan area is home to pockets of staunch support for Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, and Cain, the Georgia businessman, and their followers are showing it with their checkbooks, according to the most recent campaign finance figures.
Between the two candidates, Bachmann has pulled the most cash from here: $43,325, as of June 30, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Only donors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, in her home state, have given her more.
Cain is generating most of his contributions from Atlanta, followed by Houston, Dallas and then Naples, which has given $23,000 to that campaign.
Frank Torres, a political strategist in Central Florida, said money gushing from Naples is no surprise.
Campaigns “identify these pockets of potential, well-funded support,” he said. “Herman Cain has been making the rounds in Florida for quite some time.”
Cain visited Naples in June and was greeted by supporters, including radio show host Joe Whitehead and Barron Collier Cos. Chairman Lamar Gable, a Democrat. Bachmann was well-received at an August stop in Naples.
As national attention turns to Orlando this weekend for a mock primary, some Collier County Republicans say they are standing behind Cain and Bachmann, who have struggled recently in national and statewide opinion polls.
“I find (Cain) extremely refreshing,” said Lavigne Kirkpatrick, the state committeewoman on the county’s Republican Executive Committee.
She said she will vote for Cain as one of about 100 Collier County delegates in Saturday’s straw poll. Like other Republicans, Kirkpatrick said it is important to nominate someone who can beat President Barack Obama in next year’s election.
“I think he’s the only one that can beat Obama,” Kirkpatrick said. “I would really like to see Herman Cain debate Obama. I’d buy a front-row ticket to that.”
Both Cain and Bachmann have attracted support beyond the Republican mainstream.
Cain, who lacks any political experience, has the backing of many, like Kirkpatrick, who laud his outsider status and business success. And Bachmann is a favorite of the tea party movement, which she vowed to champion when she announced her candidacy in June.
“We do have a lot of Naples tea party people who really do like Bachmann,” said Barry Willoughby, founder of the Naples tea party organization, who said he still is undecided.
Other candidates are making money here, too, but their campaigns are hardly living off those earnings. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney drew $69,750 from Naples — a small fraction of a multimillion-dollar fundraising effort that has cashed in $2.9 million from New York City and Boston alone, according to the figures.
As potentially successful nominees emerge, Torres predicts Naples money will become even more earnestly sought.
“Expect the winner of the straw poll to become a frequent visitor of Naples,” he said.