Governor's first fundraiser not impressive

Gov. Jim Gibbons’ first fundraiser since before the Legislature wasn't impressive, drawing 46 people at $250 a head. But it was just about on target, his campaign manager Robert Olmer said Tuesday. The target had been 50 for a reception in Incline Village on Oct. 1.

The suggested donation was modest — $250 per person — so the event was never planned as a show of force.

The seven hosts were Las Vegas Realtors Joanne Levy and Lee Barrett, Donna and Chuck Ruthe, Reno attorney Pat Lundvall and her husband, former homeland security director Jerry Bussell, and Jerry Katzoff.

Another event is planned in Las Vegas for Oct. 20 sponsored by a doctors’ group, said Olmer, who didn’t have further details.

“We’re doing fairly well with individual donors,” Olmer said, declining to provide a sum raised so far. “We’re on track.”

Campaign contributions are tighter than usual because of the economy and Gibbons seems to be getting a slower start than one would expect of a sitting governor, even a sitting governor with dismal poll numbers.

Gibbons held some fundraisers last fall before the start of the Legislature, which ended June 2. By law, he couldn’t raise money until 30 days after the end of the Legislature, but a three-month gap without a fundraiser seems like a rather long period of abstinence.

I still say if the governor’s fundraisers don’t attract large numbers of people and raise buckets of money it’s a signal Gibbons, despite his insistence he is running for a second term, won’t actually run.

Campaign finance reports are due in January, if he can’t report a respectable sum, he’s going to be hurting.

If you’re not a close friend or have an issue the governor can impact, why would anyone give money to a governor who appears unable to win?

Plus, If Brian Sandoval’s fundraising efforts, which didn’t start until he resigned his judgeship Sept. 15, outpace an incumbent governor, then Gibbons looks even weaker in the GOP primary.

Sandoval said he’s dialing for dollars every day and has raised a “significant amount” in the past three weeks, but won’t give a sum. “I haven’t had anybody tell me no,” he said.

Meanwhile, Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, the Democrat in the race, has been relentless in his fundraising and has $3 million in cash and pledges. His show-of-force fundraiser pulled in $350,000 with the help of former President Bill Clinton.