Tony Bennett reported another large campaign contribution Monday, the latest in a string of gifts that has netted the Republican state superintendent’s re-election campaign at least $175,000 since August 31.
Richard Kern, a former CEO of a Wisconsin manufacturing company, donated $50,000 to Bennett’s campaign Monday. The Kern Family Foundation also partners with Project Lead The Way, a non-profit organization that writes math and science curriculum and that relocated its headquarters to Indianapolis last year.
Add Kern’s contribution to three other big gifts Bennett’s campaign has received in the last three weeks alone:
- Sept. 12: Merrillville hotel developer Dean V. White, an active Indiana GOP donor, gave $50,000. At $175,000 since 2008, White’s contribution total now tops all but one Bennett campaign donor — Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton gave $200,000 in July.
- Also on Sept. 12: Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad, who’s partnered with the Gates Foundation to start an ambitious and controversial education initiative, chipped in $50,000.
- On August 31: Elizabeth White, wife of another Bennett donor and Chicago lodging company owner Bruce White, donated $25,000.
We might add this illuminating caveat from our August post about Bennett’s campaign coffers:
Out-of-state contributions tend to raise eyebrows, says Andrew Downs, who directs the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW. But he says such gifts are not unusual for candidates running for statewide office — even in down-ballot races — and adds Bennett’s high fundraising numbers more likely reflect his rising political star.
“He is certainly making it a more high-profile race,” Downs tells StateImpact. “We can’t exactly call it top of the ticket yet by any stretch, but he certainly is making it a higher-profile among the other state offices. And if he has political aspirations to go beyond this office, then what he is doing is good practice to run for governor or for U.S. Senate.”