Neck-and-neck for the lead in the Republican money race, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney fuel their campaigns by relying on big-dollar donors. But they diverge on spending, with Romney paying out far more than Perry and writing far bigger checks for political staff, direct mail and other campaign activities in key states.
Overall, the campaign finance filings submitted Saturday offer a look at how Perry, Romney and others vying for the GOP presidential nomination have run their campaigns from July through September.
The donation totals Romney and Perry received were in the same range — $14 million for Romney, $17 million for Perry — making them far and away the top recipients in the GOP field. But both were overshadowed by President Obama, who raised nearly $70 million for the quarter, with $75 million in cash on hand.
By contrast, Perry had $15 million in the bank at the end of the quarter, and Romney was close behind at $14.7 million.
To get there, the two corralled checks in large denominations. For Romney, donations of less than $200 accounted for 14% of the total amount raised. Smaller checks represented only 4% of Perry’s total.
More than half of Perry’s donors contributed the maximum allowed to the primary campaign, according to analysis by The Times. More than one-quarter of Romney’s donors also hit the contribution limit of $2,500 per person.
“We are extremely proud of the support we’ve garnered,” said Andrea Saul, spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, on Saturday. She noted that more than 80% of the donors to the campaign gave less than $250. The bulk of the money, however, came from the remaining 20%.
To amass his $17 million in contributions, Perry relied on his home state of Texas to supply nearly 60% of his funds. California donors gave $1.3 million, but his fundraising in New York was more feeble — about $450,000.
Perry’s weaker showing in New York can be explained in part by new Securities and Exchange Commission rules restricting donations from financial services company employees to sitting governors. The regulations are intended to limit contributions that could influence state contracting decisions, and uncertainty over how widely they apply has negatively affected Perry’s fundraising, according to people familiar with his operation.
The new rules don’t apply to former governors, such as Romney, who is faring better with Wall Street. Romney, founder of Bain Capital, took in $1.5 million from New York, his most lucrative state except California, where he collected $1.6 million.
Romney has banked additional Wall Street support that does not appear on last quarter’s books. After New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie finally quashed the will-he-or-won’t-he speculation about his possible candidacy and endorsed Romney, many of Christie’s ardent backers — mostly wealthy financiers from the Northeast — followed suit.
Their contributions, both to the official campaign and to the Romney-aligned “super PAC,” will probably boost the campaign as it enters the final fundraising period before the GOP primary contests begin.
While Romney and Perry brought in roughly the same in funds, their numbers departed dramatically on spending.
Filings show the Texas governor ran a lean campaign, dedicating nearly one-quarter of its funds to travel and $260,000 to payroll, and spending little on voter outreach, such as direct mail and phone calls.
“This is a long campaign and we are spending our resources prudently,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner said.
By contrast, the Romney campaign wrote checks totaling $2.7 million to direct-mail vendors, $1.2 million to employees and $2.2 million to fundraising consultants.
The filings also revealed the financial standing of several other GOP campaigns. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich raised $800,000 and ended September with $350,000 in the bank, as well as $1.1 million in debts. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania brought in $700,000 and has $190,000 on hand.
Herman Cain, who has surged in polling in recent weeks, raised $2.8 million last quarter. His campaign said that in the last two weeks, after the close of the books, Cain brought an additional $2 million. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas reported $8.2 million raised, nearly half in amounts less than $200.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota raised $4.1 million and spent about $6 million. More than one-quarter of that spending occurred in the two weeks leading up to the Aug. 13 Ames straw poll in Iowa, where she finished first.
Times staff writers Sandy Poindexter and Maloy Moore in Los Angeles contributed to this report.