Last month, Wyoming Republican Senate hopeful Liz Cheney, the former vice president's daughter, boasted outraising incumbent GOP Sen. Mike Enzi, the man she's hoping to unseat, in the third quarter of the year.
Energy executives helped her do it.
Cheney raised more than $1 million in 11 weeks, her campaign said, compared with Enzi's roughly $850,000 take during the third quarter of this year.
"With contributions from nearly 2,000 individuals, including donors in every county in Wyoming and every state in the Union, our campaign is off to a powerful start," Cheney told supporters.
T. Boone Pickens, chairman of the hedge fund BP Capital Management, gave Cheney more than $5,000 in September, Federal Election Commission records show. Pickens is also a well-known energy magnate and activist, often touting his "Pickens Plan" for energy independence.
Records show more than $5,000 in donations from Frank King, an executive for Dallas oil and gas firm Republic Energy Inc.; $2,600 from Roger Plank, an executive for Houston-based driller Apache Corp.; and $5,000 from Terry Swift, CEO of Swift Energy Co., another Texas energy company.
It's notable that Cheney, who is 47, is receiving oil company contributions, but no surprise. Wyoming is a significant natural gas and oil producer and the country's top coal miner.
And upon announcing her candidacy, Cheney vowed to surpass Enzi in advocating for the state's energy interests. "We need somebody who can stand up and say, look, 40 percent of the nation's coal comes from Wyoming and 40 percent of the nation's electricity comes from coal," she said.
Cheney may also be benefiting from her father's connections. She received $2,600 in September from David Lesar, the CEO of Halliburton Co. -- a job once held by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his wife have also pitched in.
The vast majority of Cheney's fundraising has come through individual contributions rather than political action committees, a point of pride for a candidate who is trying to buck the establishment.
Enzi, on the other hand, has received significant PAC donations, many of them from major energy companies. Beyond the third-quarter numbers, the incumbent 69-year-old senator has amassed more than $1.6 million for his bid for a fourth term.
Enzi has received more than $7,000 from Alpha Natural Resources Inc. this year, $1,000 from the American Petroleum Institute and $2,500 from the National Mining Association. Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. pitched in another $5,000.
Enzi finished September with more than $1.2 million in his campaign account. Cheney reported $795,000 on hand. Wyoming is a relatively inexpensive state for political advertising.
Although the race is far from settled, Cheney appears to be the underdog for now, according to polls. Public Policy Polling, for example, had Enzi leading 54 to 26 percent in a survey of 780 GOP primary voters in late July.
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