Sen. Jeffords sets state fundraising record

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(Host) A Vermont U.S. Senate campaign has set the state’s all time fundraising record and the candidate isn’t even up for re-election this year.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) When Jim Jeffords ran for re-election in 2000 against Democratic challenger Ed Flanagan, Jeffords spent roughly $2 million to win that race.

Although he isn’t up for re-election again until 2006, Jeffords is already working very hard to establish a solid financial base.

New campaign finance reports show that Jeffords has raised $4.5 million since the 2000 election.

Jeffords’ chief of staff, Bill Kurtz, says Jeffords’ situation is unique because he’s an independent member of the U.S. Senate – Jeffords left the Republican party in the spring of 2001 – a move that gave the Democrats control of the U.S. Senate for 18 months.

Kurtz says Jeffords has spent nearly $3 million developing his own donor list. Kurtz says this is necessary because Jeffords doesn’t have the assistance of a major political party. To date, 100,000 people have sent a contribution to Jeffords.

(Kurtz) “The senator is both humbled and delighted for the impact that he has made nationally. We have done extensive national mailings that have communicated his desires on the environment and education and concerns about the Supreme Court, and the response has been just terrific.”

Kurtz says Jeffords is also helping the Democratic party regain control of the senate this year.

Jeffords has given $25,000 to the Democratic Senate Committee and he’s made contributions to 17 Senate Democratic candidates across the country.

(Kurtz) “Senator Jeffords is very interested in getting a Democratic majority back. He’d be delighted to see Pat Leahy as the chairman of Judiciary again, and we have worked hard on behalf of democratic candidates – we’ve contributed to democratic candidates.”

Kurtz says Jeffords is actively building a strong donor base because of the possibility that state and national Republicans will target him for defeat in two years.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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