by Suzannah Couch and Olivia Ober
A $1 million contribution helped Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence outpace his Democratic opponent in the governor's race, former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg, in large contributions over the last three months.
The next round of campaign finance reports covering the period from April 1 to June 30 are not due until July 16. But campaigns must report individual donations of more than $10,000 within a week of receiving them.
As of Monday, Gregg raised more than $800,000 in those large contributions during that period, while Pence raised more than $1.7 million.
A $1 million donation from the Republican Governors Association made up a major chunk of Pence's contributions. Andrew Downs, the director of the Mike Downs Center for Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, said the contribution was unusually large for the organization.
"It is not unlikely for them to throw in that sixth figure, but to get to that seventh figure is very impressive," Downs said.
Former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Mike McDaniel said Pence's campaign is doing better a job fundraising than Gov. Mitch Daniels did during his campaign for governor.
"I thought Mitch was going to be the all-time record holder. But Pence is ahead of that. I don't know how they're doing it, but they're doing a good job," McDaniel said.
McDaniel said the RGA donated a large amount to Pence's campaign as a way to ensure Indiana stays under Republican control.
"It's an open seat. So anytime there's an open seat, they want to invest early and make sure they've got the resources in place, and so that's why they're getting early and often," McDaniel said. "I think they'll be back over and over again before the election is over."
Pence's campaign would not comment on the large donation from the RGA, but they released a statement expressing appreciation for support from Hoosiers.
"Mike Pence enjoys the support of Hoosiers from across the state who have embraced his message of making Indiana the state that works through good jobs, great schools, safe streets and strong families," said Christy Denault, the spokeswoman for Pence's campaign.
Some Democrats are not impressed with this donation.
"I expected with his tea party connections in Washington that he would have a huge monetary advantage, and he does and will continue to have," former Indiana Democratic Party Chairwoman Ann DeLaney said of the donation.
On the other side, the Democratic Governors Association had not donated to Gregg's campaign between April 1 and June 30, but Daniel Altman, Gregg's spokesman, said the campaign has seen support from the organization.
"The campaign has enjoyed the full support of the DGA and we anticipate that continuing through election day," Altman said.
Nearly 60 percent of Gregg's large contributions came from unions. Those unions include United Auto Workers' Region 3 Victory Fund and United Association Political Education Committee, a plumbers and steamfitters' union, which donated $50,000 apiece.
The Democrats opposed 'right-to-work' legislation last session, which passed with Republican support. The measure allows Hoosier workers to opt out of paying fees to unions they choose not to join, even if those groups represent them.
"The unions were really sort of galvanized by right to work this last session. What (Democrats) were really trying to do is rally and labor support in the next election," Downs said.
DeLaney said it is not a surprise that Gregg has earned contributions from unions and other Hoosiers throughout the state.
"People feel threatened by Mike Pence. Anybody who is a working class or middle class person in this state who is thinking is threatened by Mike Pence and his social agenda," DeLaney said. "There are a lot of people who feel strongly that they don't want to see him governor, and that's where the money will come from for him."
Altman said Gregg's commitment to job creation helps him earn Hoosier support.
"Working men and women are supporting John because of his commitment to bringing jobs back to Indiana while strengthening the economy for all Hoosiers, union and non-union," Altman said.
Suzannah Couch and Olivia Ober are reporters for The Statehouse File, a news web service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
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