PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Running as "the outsider," former NBA player Chris Dudley has drawn on insider connections to take a big lead in raising money in the Oregon governor race.
Dudley is a rookie campaigner emphasizing that he's coming at politics fresh, but he's raised more money than any other gubernatorial candidate, of either party, and more than twice as much as his opponent in the May primary.
The flow of cash for a candidate who's never run for office is a sign of hunger among Oregon Republicans, drubbed repeatedly in recent elections and disappointed as promising statewide candidates stepped aside.
"It's kind of surprising, but there's a lot of pent-up demand on the Republican side," says Jim Moore, political science professor at Pacific University, "He looks like the great hope at this point."
Dudley has drawn on college classmates from Yale and on business associates in the Portland suburb where he's worked in finance since retiring from basketball.
Notably, he's also raised a lot of money from establishment Oregon Republicans who have shown up regularly for years in the contributor lists for the likes of the party's most successful statewide candidate in recent years, former Sen. Gordon Smith. Notably, too, his fundraising consultant, Lori Hardwick, used to do the same work for Smith.
In all, Dudley has raised nearly $1.2 million, while the Democratic fundraising front-runner, former Gov. John Kitzhaber, has gathered slightly more than $1 million, according to campaign reports filed with the state government. The tallies were based on figures from the last two years.
Dudley's financial advantage over his main Republican opponent, Allen Alley, is better than 2-1. Alley, who made his reputation in high tech and was a co-founder of Pixelworks, has raised $464,000, after losing a race for state treasurer in 2008.
Perhaps more important, Dudley had $470,000 in cash on hand according to campaign filings as of week's end, and Alley had $72,000. A third prominent candidate, former legislator John Lim of Gresham, has raised less than $100,000. Kitzhaber has $614,000 cash on hand, according to campaign reports.
The race that counts is for votes, not cash, though, and Alley has demonstrated appeal among Republicans voters. He bested Dudley in a straw poll last month among party regulars, some of whom said he seemed the better prepared candidate.
Alley has expressed confidence he'll have enough money to do what he needs to do to win the primary campaign, and his aides say the advantage Dudley holds in cash to spend will shrivel as TV ad expenses begin to be reported.
Although both candidates have started TV advertising, those efforts can be expected to ramp up soon. Ballots will be mailed out starting in less than three weeks. They can be mailed or dropped at any time for counting on May 18.
In his fundraising, Dudley has drawn on Yale classmates from the 1980s: his former agent, Dan Fegan, the largest donor at $100,000 and Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer better known as the owner of the Florida Marlins at $50,000.
Two other $50,000 donors are Nike Chairman Phil Knight and Steve Shepard, managing director of M Financial, a company that manages benefit plans for business executives where Dudley used to be senior vice president.
He's also gotten money from figures evoking his basketball past: NBA Commissioner David Stern ($2,500) and former Trail Blazers Terry Porter ($5,000), a member of his fundraising committee, and Clyde Drexler ($1,000).
More numerous among contributors are well known names in Oregon business and philanthropy such as Harold Schnitzer, Broughton Bishop of Pendleton Woolen Mills, Stimson Lumber Company and developer Melvin Mark.
``These kinds of folks are making an assessment in a hardheaded way about who's going to prevail,'' said Bill Lunch, chairman of the political science department at Oregon State University.
Alley's major contributions the past two years have come from the worlds of high tech, venture capital and investing, such as nearly $75,000 in in-kind computer services from Dave Hersh of Jive Software in Portland, nearly $25,000 this year from Menlo Park, Calif., venture capitalist Mark Stevens and $25,000 from former Intel executive Frank Gill.
Outside those worlds, he's gotten more than $15,000 in business and individual contributions from the Freres' lumber company family in Lyons and $20,000 from Dr. William Pierce of Salem.