Barbour campaign fund dwarfs opponent's

Gov. Haley Barbour has raised $7.69 million for his re-election campaign, far outpacing the Democratic contender whose biggest donor has been himself.

Democratic candidate John Arthur Eaves Jr., a wealthy attorney, has pumped more than $1.3 million of his own money into his effort to unseat Barbour. The rest of Eaves' money came in several dozen contributions primarily from other attorneys. Eaves has $1.1 million cash on hand.

Barbour has raised $3.4 million in 2007 alone, and had more than $6.1 million cash on hand as of Thursday's reporting deadline.

Marty Wiseman, a political scientist and director of Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government, said "it will be interesting to see just how much money it would take a candidate like John Arthur Eaves to put a dent in Haley Barbour."

Even if Eaves were able to match Barbour's campaign finances, Wiseman said it still would be difficult for Eaves to beat him.

Wiseman said Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman and Washington insider, "is one of the top political strategists and performers in the country."

"No doubt money is important. But it's not an absolute that the one with the most money wins," Wiseman said. "Having the most money won't guarantee that you can win, but having too little money will guarantee that you will lose."

Both Barbour and Eaves easily outpaced the other candidates - Democrats Elmer Fondren, Fred Smith and William Compton, and Republican Frederick Jones - who managed to raise just hundreds of dollars combined.

"I am grateful for the broad support I have received - contributions small and large - from thousands of donors," Barbour said Thursday in a news release.

Eaves is new to politics, but said he has a plan to improve Mississippi.

"I am humbled by the opportunity to fight for progressive change in leadership and against those who feed off the public trust," he said. "I will continue to give all of myself and ask Mississippians who share my values to give of their time and money to support my campaign."

In the race for lieutenant governor, the state's second highest elected office, Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, leads three candidates with $1.1 million on hand. His Republican challenger, State Auditor Phil Bryant, also of Brandon, has about $800,000 on hand.

The lone Democratic candidate in the lieutenant governor's race, Rep. Jamie Franks, D-Mooreville, has roughly $599,000 on hand.