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If money matters, Bean way ahead
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/30/2008 12:28 AM

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With three Republicans and a fellow Democrat after her job, U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean has raised more money for the 2008 campaign season than all of the other 8th District hopefuls combined, federal reports show.

The Barrington Democrat's campaign committee has raked in nearly $2 million over the past year, according to newly released Federal Election Commission disclosure records. That includes about $454,000 received between Oct. 1 and Jan. 16, the period covered by the most recent FEC report.

Coming in a distant second was Republican Steve Greenberg of Long Grove. Greenberg raised about $169,000 during the reporting period, records show. He's collected about $350,000 during the entire election cycle, which started Jan. 1, 2007.

The 8th District includes parts of Lake, Cook and McHenry counties.

Bean's commanding fundraising lead indicates broad support for her candidacy, a Midwest spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said.

"Melissa Bean works tirelessly to bring the changes that her constituents are demanding," said the DCCC's Ryan Rudominer. "That's why she is earning so much enthusiastic support from Democrats, Republicans and independents."

Rudominer's Republican counterpart said Bean will need every dollar on the campaign trail. Whichever GOP candidate wins the primary "will be in a strong position to compete come November," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Democrats

A two-term incumbent first elected in 2004, Bean faces Lindenhurst peace activist Randi Scheurer in next Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Bean's supporters have raised about $1.9 million since January 2007. Notable donors during the last quarter included: National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, rock 'n' roll manager Peter Mensch and Baxter International Chairman and CEO Robert L. Parkinson.

Companies including Allstate Insurance, American Airlines, General Motors, Home Depot, Microsoft and Time Warner gave to Bean's campaign as well.

Additionally, Bean is a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline program. It's an effort to defend incumbent Democrats through aggressive fundraising and volunteer work. The DCCC has funneled cash from various donors to her campaign coffers, too, FEC reports show.

Thanks to those and other contributions, Bean's team had about $1.3 million saved as of Jan. 16.

Scheurer, the other Democrat in the race, said she didn't file disclosure forms because she hasn't collected or spent at least $5,000, the threshold that requires such paperwork.

The Republicans

As for the GOP's candidates, Greenberg faces Gurnee residents Kirk Morris and Kenneth Arnold in the primary.

The financial front-runner, Greenberg received support from some notable donors last quarter, including Chicago Bulls and White Sox Chairman Jerry M. Reinsdorf and Peter H. Huizenga, co-founder of Blockbuster Entertainment and Waste Management.

Greenberg also has benefited from a House GOP fundraising effort called the Challengers Helping Obtain the Majority Program, or CHOMP. A fundraiser last October netted him thousands of dollars from GOP lawmakers including Mike Conaway and John Carter of Texas, Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Mike Ferguson of New Jersey.

Even so, the RNCC's Spain said the national GOP won't endorse any of the 8th District candidates until after the primary. As of Jan. 16, Greenberg's committee had less than $63,000 saved.

Morris' committee has collected about $13,485 since January 2007. It amassed nearly all of that during the last three months, including a donation from Margaret McSweeney, wife of 2006 GOP congressional candidate David McSweeney.

Morris personally lent the campaign $27,000 this period, too.

His committee had less than $1,200 in the bank as of Jan. 16.

Arnold reported collecting about $7,416 since January 2007. Nearly all of that came in during the three-month period covered by the latest FEC report.

Arnold lent the campaign $15,000 of his own money during the last period, reports show. His campaign had about $2,900 as of Jan. 16.

The DCCC's Rudominer said the Republican candidates' relative lack of financial support thus far "speaks volumes about the lack of enthusiasm for these lackluster candidates."

However, having a lot of campaign cash now doesn't ensure a Bean victory next week or in November.

The GOP's Spain believes the 8th District -- a Republican stronghold until Bean seized the seat in 2004 -- still leans toward his party.

"While the power of incumbency should never be underestimated," he said, "we believe that a Republican candidate will have issues and terrain his favor."