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GOP presidential candidate Romney leading race for Arizona fundraising

Arizonans have donated $774,000 to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, nearly double the amount given to President Barack Obama, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The largest share of donations to Romney came from ZIP codes that include Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and the East Valley.

Over $1.6 million has been donated to presidential campaigns from Arizona through the third quarter.

Obama, a Democrat, has received $395,000 from Arizona to date. Of the remainder, the largest share from Arizona, $160,000, went to Republican candidate Ron Paul.

Stephen Nuño, an assistant professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, said Romney’s 2008 presidential bid, though unsuccessful, provided him with more visibility than many of the lesser-known Republican candidates.

“Romney certainly has the advantage because of his previous network-building as a candidate, so it’s not surprising,” he said via email.

The largest share of donations to Romney, $69,435, came from the 85253 ZIP code, which includes Paradise Valley and part of Scottsdale. The next two, 85213 and 85205, from which Romney received $65,575 and $42,080, respectively, are located in Mesa.

During the 2008 campaign, residents of ZIP codes in Mesa and Gilbert, which have large Mormon populations, gave heavily to Romney, who is Mormon.

“I think he probably does well in the Mormon community because he’s Mormon,” said David Berman, a senior research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

But Nuño said it is difficult to know how much of an impact Romney’s religion has, although it could potentially be beneficial.

“I can’t imagine Romney’s religion hurting him within the Mormon population, and I can envision him using this cultural attachment to his advantage during the campaign,” Nuño said.

Romney’s overall numbers are low compared to this time four years ago. Nationally he had raised $61.6 million by the third quarter of 2007, and so far this year he has raised $32.2 million. Romney had amassed $1.2 million in Arizona during that time, about $425,000 more to date than this year.

Berman said contributors likely have been holding back and will spend more as the primaries get closer.

“The money really starts to pour in when you can predict who the winner is going to be,” he said in a phone interview.

Barbara Norrander, a political science professor at the University of Arizona, said the state’s economy, which has continued to take a hit since the last presidential election, is probably not a factor.

“Candidates seem to raise funds, regardless of the state of the economy,” she said.

By candidate ($10k minimum):

• Romney (R): $774,359
• Obama (D): $394,782
• Paul (R): $159,610
• Pawlenty (R): $85,075
• Perry (R): $64,524
• Cain (R): $54,539
• Huntsman (R): $47,254
• Bachmann (R): $46,816
• Santorum (R): $14,100
• Gingrich (R): $11,570

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