Presidential campaign donations: Shelby gives more to Obama

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Though polls suggest Sen. John McCain easily should beat Sen. Barack Obama locally on Nov. 4, his popularity has not led to big campaign contributions from the community.

In fact, Obama has raked in a nearly a third more campaign contributions from Shelby Countians than has McCain.

Through Thursday, compilations by the Federal Election Commission show that Obama's campaign had received $18,055 from Shelby Countians, compared to $12,265 for McCain.

That ratio is indicative of the overall contributions from Kentuckians, who have donated $1,970,619 in support of Obama and $1,170,465 for McCain.

In Shelby, Obama has received 68 contributions from 28 local residents, and McCain has received 14 contributions from 10 local residents.

The largest single contribution went to McCain, who received $4600 from Chris Satterfield, an investment manager from Simpsonville. Obama's top donators were Daniel Burke, president of Farrier Products Distribution, and Simpsonville horse breeder Elizabeth Deknatel, who each gave $2300.

Nathan Riggs, Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman, said the reason for the high amount of campaign contribution is from the belief in Obama campaign.

Riggs said Obama has inspired a generation toward political engagement - and that often starts with their pocketbooks.

"He has energized so many people to get involved," he said. "He really is a candidate that speaks to a lot of people."

Riggs said something that has helped the amount contributions is how well coordinated the Obama campaign has been and how effectively they have used media, especially the Internet.

"In a strange way, a lot of people look at political contributions as a way to show identification with the campaign," he said.

Steve Miller, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, said though he has not personally seen the numbers, he does not think that a lack in campaign contributions means a lack on interest in the McCain-Palin ticket.

"In Shelby County there is a lot more interest in the McCain Campaign," he said. "I even have a lot of Democrats calling me to telling that they're voting for McCain in November."

Miller would not speculate on the reason for the lack in the contributions.

He did, however, lament how much money political candidates have to spend on today's elections.

"It seems like the more you've got our there, the more they vote," he said.

Miller said even state and local election are becoming more dependent on campaign finance.

In the race for the District 58 seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives, Democrat Bill Young has raised $33,621, compared to incumbent Rep. Brad Montell's $32,932.

Miller said that in today's political landscape campaign finances are necessary to run TV ads, post signs and do the things that people have come to expect of politicians.

Obama's ability to raise more money statewide than McCain was most obvious in September, when he collected $463,700 against McCain's $89,800.