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Money tells story in race

By Staff
Steve Flowers
Columnist
With all the furor created by our outgoing governor over electronic bingo, the fact that we have a governor’s race has flown completely under the media’s radar screen. However, this is a premier governor’s race because it is the first gubernatorial contest without an incumbent governor on the ballot in over two decades. The contest has now been ongoing for close to a year.
As early as seven months ago, I foolhardily predicted the winners and losers in the 2010 governor’s race. With just three months until the June 1 primary, I stand by my prognostications.  If you recall, in early August 2009 I told you that Bradley Byrne and Tim James would be the top contenders in the Republican primary and that they would eventually be pitted in a GOP runoff to face Democrat Artur Davis in November. I stand solidly behind that scenario. My prediction at that time was based on intuition. Today’s confirmation prognosis is based on fact.
In politics, money talks and everything else walks. Fundraising began last June. The first campaign finance disclosure reports filed February 1, 2010, were for the period from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2009. There is a direct correlation between money and victory. Therefore, these reports were very telling.
This first half of the campaign is analogous to the first half of a football game. It is time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Who are players and who are pretenders? Tim James and Bradley Byrne are players. They have made it to the Super Bowl while the rest of the GOP field is playing in the minor leagues.
To say that the others are out of the contest at half time would be unfair. However, they are in the same position as a coach of a high school team who finds himself trying to convince his players to go back out on the field and face the New Orleans Saints for the second half when they are already trailing 50-0.
Tim James is the comer in this contest. Byrne was pegged as the early favorite but it is going to be a horserace between these two conservatives. James, the son of former Governor Fob James, is personable and telegenic. He raised $2.6 million and loaned his campaign another $2 million. Byrne also raised $2.6 million. These two candidates’ fundraising totals are amazing in this economic environment.
These two frontrunners will benefit from the adage that money begets money. There are deep pocketed contributors waiting to see the disclosure reports before they get on board. They will be boarding the James and Byrne bandwagon trains. In fact, a good many large contributors will give to both camps. They both have over $2 million in their war chests as they await the second half.