Volunteer Fund-Raisers Bring in Tens of Millions for Bush

Three states that President Bush (search) lost in 2000 — California, Illinois and Michigan — were among his biggest sources of campaign money in the last fund-raising quarter, a newly filed finance report shows.

Bush's home state of Texas led in contributions where donor states were identified, providing about $5.3 million to their former governor, who has collected roughly $84 million so far this year.

Florida, where Bush's brother Jeb is governor, followed with about $4.4 million. Next were California with $4.1 million, Illinois with about $3.4 million and Michigan, $2 million, a report filed with federal election officials shows.

Business was the most common profession listed by donors, who represented industries ranging from beer wholesalers to banking and finance to oil and gas, real estate and ranching.

A new network of volunteer fund-raisers is paying off big for Bush, collecting at least $20 million of the roughly $84 million.

At least 100 people have raised the $200,000 required to become Bush campaign "Rangers" since Bush started the group in May, when he began his re-election effort. They include business executives, politicians and lobbyists.

An additional 185 volunteer fund-raisers have already collected the $100,000 needed to become Bush "Pioneers," collectively soliciting at least $18.5 million for the campaign. A similar group helped Bush raise a record $100 million for his 2000 primary campaign.

Bush began this month with $70 million on hand, far more than any of his Democratic rivals.

New Bush fund-raisers on a list released by the campaign Tuesday include:

—Bruce Benson, a Ranger and president of the Benson Mineral Group (search), an oil and gas production company based in Denver.

—Ranger Steve Burd, president of the California-based Safeway (search) grocery store chain, which operates hundreds of supermarkets across the country.

—Richard Hohlt, a Ranger and Washington lobbyist whose clients have included energy, pharmaceutical and financial services companies.

—Jose "Pepe" Fanjul, a Pioneer whose family runs the Florida-based Flo-Sun (search) sugar dynasty and has donated to Republicans and Democrats, including former President Clinton (search). His brother Alfonso's name surfaced during Congress' investigation of Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky: Clinton was in the Oval Office with Lewinsky, telling her he wanted to end their affair, when he interrupted the conversation to take a phone call from Alfonso Fanjul.

— House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and New York Gov. George Pataki, who each raised at least $200,000 for Bush.

— New Ranger James Klauser, an executive with the Wisconsin Energy Corp., who served as administration secretary to then-Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, now U.S. health and human services secretary.

— Pioneer Dirk Van Dongen, a lobbyist and president of the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors. The group currently is pushing Congress to pass legislation limiting product liability for wholesalers and distributors.

Bush already is halfway to his goal of raising $150 million to $170 million for next year's primaries. He faces no GOP challenger as nine Democrats compete for their party's nomination.

The campaign raised about $49.5 million from July through Sept. 30, bringing his total to $83.9 million. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have a new round of fund-raising events this week, including two in California on Wednesday headlined by Bush that were expected to take in roughly $1.5 million.

Candidates were detailing their latest fund raising in reports to the Federal Election Commission due Wednesday night. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was the Democratic money leader, raising about $15 million in the third quarter.