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NORTH DAKOTA CAMPAIGN FUNDS: Hoeven, $1.26 million; Mathern, $33,200 for N.D. governor's race

BISMARCK Gov. John Hoeven has begun his bid for a third term with a campaign fund of that totaled $1.17 million on Jan. 1. During all of 2007, he raised $1.26 million in 2007 from 1,350 donors, according to the campaign finance report his politic...

BISMARCK Gov. John Hoeven has begun his bid for a third term with a campaign fund of that totaled $1.17 million on Jan. 1.

During all of 2007, he raised $1.26 million in 2007 from 1,350 donors, according to the campaign finance report his political office turned in to the secretary of state and furnished to reporters Thursday. About three-fourths of that a bit over $900,000 came from people or groups who each gave $5,000 or more.

Thursday was the deadline for statewide officeholders, statewide candidates, legislators, political parties, political action committees and others to report their finances for 2007.

Hoeven's biggest donor was the Republican Governors' Association, $250,000. Eleven other individuals gave $25,000 to $26,000. North Dakota has no cap on the size of political donations.

Democrats lag

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Compared with Hoeven, the Democrats seeking to oppose him in November have a ways to go. Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, reported raising $33,223. Nearly one-third was a $10,000 donation from Ron and Marlene Hoffart of Grouser Products in West Fargo.

Mathern had announced an exploratory effort at the end of August and committed to a campaign on Nov. 1.

The other Democrat seeking the party nomination for the race, Rep. Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, only announced his candidacy late in January and did not raise money during 2007.

An independent candidate, Gregg Boyer of Barney, N.D., received one reportable contribution, $1,911, from Quentin and Emeth Boyer of Barney.

Hoeven's campaign reported that 87 percent of the people donating to the governor are North Dakota residents. The total raised and the number of donors signifies "North Dakotans fell we're on the right track" under Hoeven's leadership, said campaign manager Don Larson.

The Democrats saw it differently.

"It's clearly a lot of money," said party Executive Director Jamie Selzler, "And I think it shows the governor knows he's going to have a (tough) race this year."

Selzler noted that Hoeven had all year to raise money with the advantage of being an incumbent.

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"But this doesn't deter us," he said.

The governor's 2007 fundraising is nearly double what Hoeven accumulated four years ago. He collected $680,000 in 2003 and began 2004 with $630,000 on hand. The Democrat who would oppose him that year, former Sen. Joe Satrom, reported just under $15,000 raised in 2003 and only $692 on hand on Jan. 1, 2004.

Hoeven's campaign was by far the most prolific of those who hold or are seeking statewide elective office this year.

Schneider aheadBelow Hoeven, the biggest candidate haul was by Rep. Jasper Schneider, D-Fargo, who is running for state insurance commissioner. He reported raising $27,637. His opponent, incumbent Commissioner Adam Hamm, who was appointed to the position in October, reported raising no funds.

Hamm said Thursday that he had intended all along to not focus on fundraising the first several months.

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