Gibbons campaign manager Josh Thomas sat down with reporters yesterday to discuss the state of the campaign, declaring his guy would equal Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey in fundraising by year's end. That means Gibbons would have about $2 million by then, Thomas says.
The latest financial disclosures covering the first half of 2009 show Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam raised $3.6 million, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey $1.3 million, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp $1.25 million and Gibbons $417,000.
"We know we have to be competitive with Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey and I believe we will be. In December we will be where they are. ... We've said from the beginning we don't have to raise Haslam money. But we do have to raise Wamp and Ramsey money. There's no doubt about it."
According to Thomas, "That'll cause people across the state to take a second look at us. Which we need because his message and his story is what resonates when people look at it."
Of course, it says something--and not something good--about a candidate who a year before the primary already is hoping for second looks. But Gibbons' supporters insist he can raise enough money to compete effectively and win the primary by capitalizing on his popularity in Shelby County. A Gibbons poll in February showed him with 60 percent of the GOP vote in his home county. Thomas says Gibbons must take 50,000 votes in Shelby or roughly two-thirds of what's expected.
So far, Haslam is beating Gibbons in fundraising even in Memphis
, raking in $329,000 to Gibbons' $305,000. Not a good sign.