The two Republicans running for the 4th District congressional seat have about the same amount of money to spend, but came by it in different ways.
Republican national committeeman Mike Pompeo has raised about $253,000 since early April, primarily in large contributions from executives and their spouses.
State Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, is largely self-funding his campaign so far, having lent his war chest $222,500 since announcing his candidacy in February.
In their quarterly reports, Pompeo reported cash on hand of about $233,000; Kelsey has $205,000.
A first-time candidate, Pompeo said he is “really happy with the way it’s gone so far.”
He said he has been out meeting people in the district and their “willingness to make a contribution is a demonstration of commitment to the Pompeo campaign.”
Kelsey, however, said it’s a matter of differing campaign philosophies.
“My strategy has been to organize the campaign and get the grass roots,” he said, adding that he plans to ramp up fund-raising in the current quarter.
“Our campaign will be adequately funded,” Kelsey said. “We will not lose this campaign because of lack of money.”
Democratic State Rep. Raj Goyle of Wichita announced his candidacy Saturday and did not have to file a quarterly report. Retired court service officer Robert Tillman also has announced his intent to seek the Democratic nomination but has not officially filed.
The 4th District congressional seat is open because Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, is running for Senate against 1st District Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays.
Pompeo, the president of the oilfield equipment firm Sentry International, has tapped deeply into the Wichita business community to build his campaign treasury.
According to his campaign filing, 66 contributors, mostly current or retired business executives and their wives, gave the maximum $2,400 contribution. Together, they accounted for $158,400, more than 60 percent of Pompeo’s contributions.
Another 51 people donated $1,000 each, making up 20 percent of Pompeo’s campaign chest.
Among the prominent names in the $2,400 donor list are Jeff Turner, president of Spirit Aerosystems; real estate executive Nestor Weigand, Intrust Bank President Charlie Chandler, investor/philanthropist Barry Downing and Jeff Johnson, president of Flint Hills National Golf Club.
Kelsey’s largest donation was $1,000 from Huck PAC, a conservative political action committee affiliated with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Kansas Republican caucus when he ran for president last year.
Kelsey said that considering Pompeo’s business connections, it’s not surprising he was able to raise a lot from what Kelsey called “high dollar money people.”
“My appeal’s always been to the church crowd and average folks, the $100 and $200 contributors,” he said.
Pompeo said he thinks his donor list will broaden as he continues to campaign throughout the district. He said he expects to soon announce campaign chairpersons for each of the 11 counties that make up the 4th District.
And of Kelsey’s strategy of organizing first and fund-raising later, Pompeo said “We’re trying to accomplish both simultaneously.”