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Obama rakes in $11.2M in campaign dollars from Mass.

Associated Press | 9/3/2008, 4:56 a.m.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., greets the crowd at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Monday, Aug....
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., greets the crowd at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Monday, Aug. 25, 2008, at the Pepsi Center. Thanks in part to the support of top Massachusetts Democrats like Kennedy, Sen. John F. Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick, the Bay State had raised nearly $11.2 million for the Obama presidential campaign as of the end of July, according to federal campaign finance reports. AP /Rodolfo Gonzalez/Rocky Mountain News

Massachusetts residents are emptying their wallets in a big way for Barack Obama just months after handing his former rival Hillary Clinton one of her more lopsided primary wins.

The Bay State has poured nearly $11.2 million into Obama’s campaign coffers through the end of July, according to a review of federal campaign finance reports.

The surge puts Massachusetts just behind the more populous states of California ($42.3 million) and New York ($28.3 million) and Obama’s home state of Illinois ($21.3 million) in total giving to the Democratic presidential candidate.

On a per capita basis, Obama activists say, Massachusetts easily tops those other states in fundraising.

The nearly $11.2 million is made up of more than 49,500 individual contributions ranging from $5 to the maximum of $2,300 for each of the primary and general election cycles.

The donations came from doctors, lawyers, carnival operators, actors, professors, high school guidance counselors, venture capitalists, stay at home mothers and carpenters. The bulk of the donations came from the metropolitan Boston area.

In February, voters here overwhelmingly backed Clinton, giving her 56 percent of the vote to Obama’s 41 percent during the Super Tuesday contests. The win briefly helped revive Clinton’s campaign.

But despite the vote, Obama had already lined up the support of some of the state’s top political figures including Gov. Deval Patrick and Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry.

Even more crucial to Obama’s fundraising success in Massachusetts is Alan Solomont, a former Democratic National Committee finance chairman and top fundraiser for Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. Solomont coordinates Obama’s fundraising in New England.

Early on, Solomont decided to bring an entrepreneurial discipline to the fundraising effort, holding weekly meetings with up to 100 top Obama activists from around the region. At the meetings, Solomont asked everyone to name a fundraising goal.

To reach their goal, each individual was asked to go out and persuade others to contribute to Obama. Those who reached their goals were rewarded with a blue plastic Obama bracelet.

“Our mission is to raise funds, but what we’ve really done is change the paradigm,” Solomont said. “It has been less about asking people for money, but more about creating this sustained community of support.”

One of those attending the meetings was Steve Grossman, former Democratic National Committee Chairman.

Grossman was Clinton’s top fundraiser in Massachusetts, but when Clinton got out of the race, Grossman signed on to the Obama team and set himself a fundraising target of $250,000.

To reach the goal, Grossman cajoled other Clinton supporters to donate to Obama.

“Everyone I reached out [to] supported Hillary and I was able to ask them to come on board,” said Grossman, who succeeded in reaching his goal. “It’s not just a top-down fundraising model where big donations are all that matter.”

Also boosting Obama’s totals here was a recent fundraising effort in Boston that pulled in about $4.8 million for the campaign.

State Democratic Chairman John Walsh said it’s no surprise that Massachusetts, one of the bluest states in the country, would donate heavily to Obama.

“They’ve seen this kind of grassroots campaign be successful before with Gov. Patrick,” Walsh said.

Obama’s use of the Internet to solicit donations also echoed Patrick’s use of the Web to build support and defeat better-known candidates during his 2006 gubernatorial run.

On the Republican side, Massachusetts has been less generous to John McCain, donating just $2.4 million, putting the state about 10th in the nation in total giving to the presumptive GOP nominee.

Not surprisingly, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised more than McCain here, about $3.8 million, during his failed bid for the GOP nomination. Romney, who has become an ardent McCain supporter since his primary loss, could help bring in more money for McCain in the run-up to the general election.

Clinton raised just $5.5 million in Massachusetts during her campaign, putting the state 9th among states in total giving to Clinton.

Obama’s running mate Joe Biden pulled in $476,995 in contributions from Massachusetts during his own brief campaign for president.

Obama’s fundraising efforts in Massachusetts are far from over. With the Labor Day holiday now past, Solomont’s group plans to meet again to set new goals for the final sprint to Election Day.

(Associated Press)