- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - All four Republican secretary of state hopefuls are putting up large sums of their own money in hopes of winning Tuesday’s primary.

Campaign finance reports released Tuesday show candidates raised a combined amount of more than $655,000, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reported. That’s an unprecedented amount for a secretary of state’s race.

Cheyenne businessman Ed Murray easily outraised the group by bringing in more than $400,000. More than $360,000 of that amount came from Murray himself through personal loans while just under $40,000 came from contributions from more than 100 individuals.

“Unlike the career politicians in the race, I did not have large fundraising lists, a government union in my back pocket or a rolodex of political favors at my disposal,” Murray said in a statement. “(My wife) Caren and I have invested some of our own funds on the campaign and view it as an investment in Wyoming’s future.”

Candidates Pete Illoway of Cheyenne, Ed Buchanan of Torrington, and Clark Stith of Rock Springs each reported raising less than $100,000.

Buchanan, a lawyer and former speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives, gathered the second highest of the four with a total of just over $94,000. This included $31,565 from individuals and $51,600 in loans from himself.

Buchanan took in thousands from conservative political action committees. That includes $1,000 from WyWatch Family Action, a group that promotes Judeo-Christian social principles, and $4,000 from Conservative Republicans of Wyoming, a group that has targeted moderate Republicans in the past.

Stith raised over $86,000, which includes $65,000 in personal loans and about $6,430 from immediate family or personal sources. The $14,305 he raised was from individual residents was the least among the four in that category.

But Stith said is happy with his campaign haul.

“I’m pleased to have a lot of small contributions from all over the state,” Stith said. “I’m confident we put enough resources together that the voters will have a real choice between going with the status quo or taking the state in a new path toward greatness.”

Illoway brought in about $70,000, including $40,000 in personal loans. He said he struck the right balance of committing personal funds while also using grassroots fundraising efforts.

“I was very pleased with the grassroots effort, and that’s exactly what it has been,” Illoway said. “We were not going to mortgage the campus, so to speak.”

Illoway and Stith both said it won’t be known until Tuesday whether the large amount of money in the race will sway voters. The two also agreed that Murray has the right to put however much he wants into the race.

But Illoway said it can be troublesome when one candidate puts such a large amount of personal money into the campaign.

“These races historically have not been over $100,000,” Illoway said. “When you do put in a lot of money, it can really fence people in.”

The total amount of $644,244 that the four have raised so far is unheard of for a Wyoming secretary of state’s race. The three candidates who competed in the 2010 secretary of state election raised a total of $88,080 for the entire election cycle.

Part of the reason for the influx of cash at this stage is because there is a good chance Tuesday’s election will decide the winner. No Democrats have filed for the race.

There are two third-party candidates, Jennifer Young, representing the Wyoming Constitution Party, and Howard “Kit” Carson from the Wyoming Libertarian Party. But they face steep odds in upsetting a major party candidate.

___

Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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