For Romney, state has been fertile fundraising ground

And so it was for Mitt Romney, who stopped though Sacramento earlier this week in an effort to pad his already sizeable fundraising advantage going into what promises to be an eventful fight for the Republican nomination.

Unlike many of the other Republican hopefuls, Romney has enjoyed a national profile for nearly a decade, dating back to his days as governor of Massachusetts. And nowhere has that advantage paid off more than in the Golden State.

During his first presidential campaign, he raised more money from California than any other state -- more than $8.4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But his political ties here run even deeper. He also raised more than $105,000 from Californians during his tenure as Massachusetts governor -- no small number, considering Massachusetts' $500 individual campaign contribution limits.

The list of Romney's early California donors, which covers 2002 to 2005 and was provided by Massachusetts' Office of Campaign and Political Finance, showcases a formidable array of bankers, venture capitalists and other wealthy professionals who no doubt will provide a boost as Romney seeks to mine the vast wealth of California's most prolific political donors.

Notably absent from the list: Meg Whitman -- the former eBay CEO and gubernatorial candidate who has been close with Romney since their days at the consulting company Bain & Co. Whitman is now helping lead Romney's national fundraising efforts.

Many of Romney's early supporters have stuck with him since Massachusetts, federal campaign records show. For example, another former Bain executive and Whitman's successor at eBay, John Donahoe, gave a combined $1,000 to Romney in 2002 and 2004. Donahoe's wife added another $500. Donahoe then gave $2,300 to Romney's presidential campaign in 2007.

Other heavyweight donors also jumped on the bandwagon early, among them former Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio and the estate of famed venture capitalist William Draper -- both prolific donors who have given millions to campaigns around California.

Romney, who owns a house in La Jolla, also has scheduled private fundraising events in the Bay Area, Beverly Hills and Orange County.

Story courtesy of our media partners at California Watch (A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting)

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