By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press Writer
Democrat Jack Conway surpassed $260,000 in campaign contributions Tuesday in his first Web-based fundraiser, borrowing from a strategy used effectively by his Republican opponent in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.
The tally has exceeded the campaign’s original goal of $260,000 by early Tuesday evening with several more hours left in the 24-hour Internet appeal, according to a running count on Conway’s campaign website. They later raised the goal to $300,000.
Conway is running against Republican Rand Paul, whose father, Ron Paul, pioneered the tactic of tapping the Internet for campaign cash during the Texas congressman’s unsuccessful run for president in 2008.
In his pitch for online donations, Conway warned that a Rand Paul victory in November “would be a disaster,” noting in part that Paul has expressed misgivings about applying part of the Civil Rights Act to private businesses.
Rand Paul banked more than $1.2 million from Web-based fundraising, or “moneybombs,” during the GOP primary, and has had a couple more during the general-election campaign.
Conway’s campaign has said Paul’s online fundraising has been losing steam in its past couple of appeals.
The Republican’s campaign spokesman, Gary Howard, tried to minimize Conway’s online fundraising performance Tuesday, saying that “the whole point of a moneybomb is to attract thousands of small contributions in a single day, not a few big checks from trial lawyers and liberal elites.”
“Dr. Paul’s opposition to ‘Obamacare’ and support for fundamental spending reform in Washington has meant that he was able to process thousands of online donations in a single day with a median contribution of about $100 for his moneybombs,” Howard said in a statement.
The Kentucky Republican Party took its own swipes, saying Conway was getting fundraising help from establishment Democrats such as New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. State GOP Chairman Steve Robertson said Conway has been “hobnobbing with liberal elites,” which he called a clear sign that Conway is “completely out of touch” with Kentucky voters.
Conway’s campaign said its Web-based fundraiser was backed by a lineup of U.S. senators including Schumer, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California, as well as Kentucky elected officials. The campaign responded to Republican criticism by saying thousands of donors contributed, with an average amount under $100. Conway said the showing signaled his campaign has strong grassroots support.
Both Conway and Paul are trying to rake in as much campaign cash as possible to pay for an expected flurry of television advertising in the final weeks of their campaign.
The two rivals are competing for the seat of Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms.