DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN KERRY ADDRESSES SUPPORTERS AT VICTORY RALLY
Andy Clark  /  Reuters
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, addresses supporters during a victory rally in Seattle, Washington Wednesday.
By Rob Reynolds Washington correspondent
CNBC
updated 2/4/2004 6:27:39 PM ET 2004-02-04T23:27:39

The nomination is still up for grabs but already attention is turning to the question of who will help Sen. John Kerry finance his run for the White House.

Kerry emerged Tuesday with five victories in seven primary contests, the frontrunner among Democratic presidential hopefuls. The next battlegrounds are this weekend's caucuses in Michigan and Washington, and money is on many people's minds.

"For the second time in a few days, a New England patriot has won on the road!" the Massachussetts senator told a cheering crowd of supporters last night in Seattle, where he was already campaigning for this weekend's showdown.

With Washington, Michigan, Tennessee, Maine and Virginia coming up over the next seven days, the campaign now becomes more national and more expensive. Kerry hopes to capitalize on his victories, starting with a pair of fundraisers in New York Thursday.

Video: Analyzing the next step for Democrats "In February and March we'll add fundraisers onto the schedule across the country,” said Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan. “We know that Bush has out-raised us by over $130 million so far, and they'll continue to raise money."

The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign has been extremely successful in raising money from corporate executives and CEOs.  Powerful conservative organizations, like Americans for Tax Reform, have sought to dry up sources of funds for Democrats by publicizing the names of Washington lobbyists, trade associations and corporations that donate to Democrats. The implication is that if they give to a Democrat, the firms will have trouble doing business with a Republican White House and Congress.

But as the emerging frontrunner, Kerry can tap into the Democrats' money network.

"Now the money is flowing more freely,” said Anthony Corrado, professor of government at Colby College. “He’s getting access to the traditional Democratic party fundraisers who are now willing to raise money for his campaign in the sense that he might become the nominee and therefore they should hedge their bets. And he is getting broader support from around the country from donors who want a candidate who can beat President Bush."

Some analysts, including Frederick Mayer of Duke University's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, believe Bush's broad financial support in the business community may be weakening due to uneasiness about the macroeconomic picture.

"I think givers in the business community, where it is their job to think about the long-term economy — investment, for example — are getting nervous about the direction of the economy, the deficits that we are facing, and are at this point certainly hedging their bets in terms of their giving strategies," he said.

Kerry has decided to forego federal matching funds and the spending caps that go along with them. That means he can raise, and spend, as much as his donors are willing to give.

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