Lawyers Back Edwards' Bid for President

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls scouring the country for campaign cash have found it in familiar places: John Edwards collected more than half his money from fellow attorneys, while John Kerry and Joe Lieberman tapped their home states and Dick Gephardt took in millions from one hometown ZIP code.

Roughly $4 million of the $7.4 million Edwards raised from January through March came from attorneys, according to a campaign finance report he filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. Edwards was a trial lawyer before North Carolina elected him to the Senate in 1998, a connection Republicans have tried to turn into a campaign issue.

Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said the campaign wouldn't mind if all its money came from trial lawyers.

She noted that Edwards also collected millions of dollars in the South, including at least $924,825 from North Carolina donors and $158,800 from early-primary state South Carolina, the most of any Democratic hopeful. He drew around $300,000 each from Alabama and Florida in the first quarter.

"We think what people look for in an Edwards candidacy is evidence that as a general-election candidate he would do well in the South, and this is evidence of a good initial base of support in the Southern states," Palmieri said.

Several hopefuls looked to their home states for a big share of their early money.

Missouri donors gave Gephardt $3.3 million of the $3.5 million he collected in the first quarter. More than $2.4 million of his checks came from the 63119 zip code in metropolitan St. Louis, his hometown.

In all, Kerry raised $7 million in the first quarter, with more than half coming from three states. His home state of Massachusetts yielded about $1.65 million, while Californians contributed about $1.5 million and New Yorkers at least $897,484.

Kerry campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs said that while much of Kerry's money came from traditional Democratic strongholds, his financial base is broader than that.

"We're pleased to have received contributions from every state in the country and we intend to continue to further develop the deep network we've started," he said.

Kerry will decide by fall whether to accept public financing for his primary campaign, Gibbs said. Most others in the nine-way Democratic race, including Edwards and Gephardt, have said they will accept public funding and the spending limits that come with it.

Kerry led the field in early cash on hand, reporting about $8 million in the bank. Edwards had $5.7 million, Gephardt $4.9 million, Howard Dean $2 million, Lieberman nearly $1.8 million and Sen. Bob Graham $1.1 million.

Lieberman raised about $3 million in the first three months of the year, including $656,810 in Connecticut, his home state. New York was the second biggest source of money for the 2000 vice presidential candidate, with donors there contributing $563,710, followed by Californians, who gave at least $363,300.

Graham drew more than $982,000 of his $1.1 million from his home state of Florida.

Edwards counted California No. 1; donors there gave him more than $1.1 million. Texans were next with $1 million.

Cross-country campaigning also paid off for Dean, the former Vermont governor, who found California surpassing his home state as his biggest source of money.

Of the $2.6 million Dean raised, about $417,000 came from California, followed by New York with $267,629, and Vermont and Massachusetts with about $217,000 each.

The campaign finance reports filed Tuesday showed attorneys - a traditional Democratic group - giving big to others besides Edwards.

Kerry collected at least $1 million from lawyers, the top-giving occupation in his report, while they gave at least $592,000 to Gephardt, $402,600 to Lieberman, $176,000 to Graham and $144,847 to Dean.

Some of the campaigns were tracking down occupations for several donors, including the Kerry campaign, which was seeking them for contributors responsible for nearly $1.8 million. The FEC requires campaigns to provide the information.

Among others in the race, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich reported $173,080 in contributions and $7,000 in loans. He started April with $50,397 on hand.

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun raised $72,450 and began the month with $45,005 to spend.

The remaining hopeful, Al Sharpton, was conducting preliminary testing-the-waters activities and was not expected to file a first-quarter report.