Indiana's candidates for governor raked in a combined $7 million dollars in campaign contributions over the past three months—money that will fuel what could become one of the most expensive political races in state history.
After being out-fundraised by Democratic former state House Speaker John Gregg last quarter, preliminary numbers indicate that Republican Gov. Mike Pence's campaign led this time around, taking in a total of $4.1 million. Most of that money came through $2.6 million in cash contributions, pushing his cash-on-hand total up to about $7.4 million, according to a campaign memo issued Wednesday.
"To put these numbers into perspective, in 2008, then-Governor Mitch Daniels reported raising $1.8 million" during the same period, Mart Obst, the executive director of Pence's campaign wrote in the memo.
Pence's bottom line was boosted by a substantial ad buy, paid for by the Republican Governors Association, which has saturated TV with an attack on Gregg.
The most expensive race in state history was in 2004, which Daniels and Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan spend a combined $33 million on the governor's race.
There is an air of about this year's race because Pence is among a handful of Republicans being considered by Donald Trump as his vice presidential nominee. Under state law, Pence cannot run for governor and vice president at the same time.
Gregg's campaign says it took in a total of about $3 million during the same period, which dates back to the beginning of April. And Gregg campaign manager Tim Henderson says Gregg would have outraised Pence without the help of the RGA, which has donated more than $2 million in ads and cash to Pence.
"They've had to come and bail him out," Henderson said. "If you take the RGA out of the equation for him, we've outraised him every quarter."
Finalized numbers do not have to be reported to the Indiana Secretary of State's office until July 15, but large donations are reported more quickly.
Records show Pence swept up nearly $200,000 in large donations toward the end of June, much of it coming from businessmen. That includes a $10,000 from H. Ross Perot Jr., son of former independent presidential candidate Ross Perot. In June, Pence attended a Missouri fundraiser held in the St. Louis home of Rex Sinquefield, the state's most prolific political donor.
Gregg has collected large sums from labor unions, who are perhaps his strongest financial backer. Gregg recently launched a negative ad of his own, hitting Pence over plans by Carrier Corp. to lay off Indiana workers and relocate their jobs to Mexico.
Alluding to what could turn into a brutal campaign of attacks and counter attacks, Obst said in the memo that more fundraising was needed to "push back against the onslaught of negative ads by Gregg and his liberal allies."