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WY-GOV: Republicans jumping in, Micheli in money lead. Freudenthal jumping out?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I support Ron Micheli for Wyoming Governor and am actively working to get him elected. I have known Ron Micheli for most of my life and have been volunteering my time for him for almost a year.

It looks like this is the week that many candidate for governor in Wyoming are officially kicking off their campaigns. Wyoming State Auditor Rita Meyer has set the date of her official announcement for tomorrow, January 19. She will begin her day with a speech in Casper at noon and end it in her home town of Cheyenne with a speech at 5:30.

Of all of the declared (officially or unofficially) candidates, Ms. Meyer is the only one who has won a state wide election, with her election to the Office of State Auditor in 2006. Previous to that, she was the chief of staff to former Governor Jim Geringer. While this date may be her official announcement date, she has privately told many Republicans around the state that she was committed to the race as early as April 2008 when she told me that very thing.

Wyoming has very loose campaign finance reporting rules. That being said, Ms. Meyer reported raising $31,000 from under 100 total contributors during August 2009 through December 2009, lending her own campaign $15,000 from personal funds, and spending $8,000, leaving her with approximately $40,000 cash on hand at the end of the period.

During this same period, candidate Ron Micheli raised a total of $120,000 from approximately 550 contributors.

Ms. Meyer did have a small cash balance in her account from the 2006 campaign that she rolled over into this one.

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Mead has set his official announcement date for January 22, this Friday. This is his first quest for public office. His mother was Mary Mead who ran against incumbent Governor Mike Sullivan in 1990. She was soundly defeated. In addition, he is the grandson of former Governor and U.S. Senator Clifford Hansen, who recently passed away.

Mr. Mead did not file a financial disclosure statement as the law does not require him to being that he has not formed a campaign committee prior to the 2010 cycle. ( I’ll explain this in the comments if people want me to.) In addition, he has not voluntarily released any fund raising information either.

The thing is, Matt Mead has inherited a large fortune from his family and is more likely than not a self-funder. He may not expect to raise much money.

Ron Micheli will has yet to set his official announcement tour, although his campaign says it will be this month. Time is a tickin’!

Mr. Micheli, for the same reason as Mr. Mead, was not required to file a financial disclosure statement with the Secretary of State. However, he did release fund raising and expenditures statement anyway. As of December 31, he raised approximately $182,000 and had only contributed $1,000 of his own money. In addition, his campaign boasted 800 contributors, and they raised 95% of the total from all of Wyoming’s 23 counties. At the end of the period, Mr. Micheli had $130,000 cash on hand – about $25,000 more than Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Now, $182,000 may not seem like a lot of money, but this is Wyoming. To put this into perspective, Mr. Micheli raised more money by December 31 of the off-year, than all of the GOP candidates for governor in the whole 2006 primary, combined. In addition, the popular incumbent Democratic governor raised $206,000 as of December 31, 2005.

What is really interesting is that Gov. Dave Freudenthal raised, as of December 31, 2009, a grand total of $5,600 from all of three contributors.

No fund raising by gov

The governor has spent $20,000 on a public opinion poll, a move that was interpreted by some as sign he will run for a third term.

Yet he has not been doing any active fund raising, judging by the campaign statement late last month by his committee “Folks for Freudenthal.”

The report listed $600 from individual contributors, $5,000 from the Wal-Mart political action committee, and a balance of $84,424.

As a result of the financial statement disclosure by Gov. Freudenthal, most observers in Wyoming now believe that he will not seek a third term.

This makes Wyoming a prime target for a GOP gubernatorial pick up in 2010.

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