MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer HELENA (AP)
Gov. Brian Schweitzer led the money race over Republican challenger Roy Brown in campaign finance disclosures filed Monday. Schweitzer reported raising about $230,000 since the start of the fourth quarter, Oct. 1, 2007. Brown, a state senator from Billings, reported raising about $134,000, including a personal loan of $20,000, since he got into the race Nov. 1, 2007. Schweitzer's campaign reported topping the $1 million mark in money raised so far, and said it had nearly $800,000 on hand. Brown entered the race expecting that he needed to raise a total of $1.6 million by the November elections to be competitive. His start leaves him with more than $1.4 million left to go. Brown said he is right on target, and believes that goal is still achievable. He pointed out he had only about two-thirds of the reporting period to raise money, since he just entered the race. Brown, who called raising money the "worst part" of campaigning, said he has no expectation of raising more than Schweitzer. Brown said the content of his message will prove more important. "I think if I can get a reasonable amount of money, I can get that message out to the public," he said. Brown has been critical of the way Schweitzer has decided to spend state money, and says the governor has accomplished less than he claims. Schweitzer's message has focused on the state's low unemployment and efforts to attract energy development and other business growth, while touting accomplishments like the property tax rebates. Schweitzer is on pace to surpass the $1.5 million he raised when he beat Republican Bob Brown in 2004. But Schweitzer said he does not spend much time thinking about the money raised. "I think I will just keep working for the people of Montana, and there is plenty of time in the future to worry about politics," he said. The Schweitzer campaign also reported Monday that it donated to a charity $750 it received from a man trying to trademark the Montana slogan "The Last Best Place." The money came from Las Vegas businessman David E. Lipson, who owns the Resort at Paws Up in the Blackfoot Valley. Schweitzer said he decided the Lipson money "would be better used" by the Friendship Center, a charity supported by both him and his wife, than the campaign. Schweitzer has been critical in the past about the efforts of Lipson to trademark the name. Lipson could not be reached for comment Monday, but previously told The Associated Press through a spokeswoman that he gave money despite the criticism "because I believe in our Democracy." Like Schweitzer, Roy Brown said he has decided not to take any money from Political Action Committees. "I just don't think it's worth the hassle," Brown said. "It just ends up a political issue if you take it."