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Mitt Romney sends a money message

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Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney raised $10 million in a single day for his 2012 presidential campaign. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney collected more than $10 million for his presidential primary bid on Monday, a show of financial force meant to remind his opponents that knocking off the frontrunner won’t be an easy task.

More than 800 Romney donors and supporters traveled to Las Vegas on Monday for a call-day designed to demonstrate his financial might — and demonstrate it they did.

“The results are a strong indication of the national enthusiasm for Governor Romney and his pro-jobs platform,” said Romney finance chair Spencer Zwick.

Eric Tanenblatt, an Atlanta-based Romney major donor who participated in the call day, said that “there was an enthusiastic crowd from all across the country present and you could feel the excitement in the room.”

Expectations were high for Romney who is widely expected to be the financial frontrunner in the GOP nomination fight.

In a similar call-in day for his 2008 presidential bid, Romney collected $6.5 million. For the entire campaign, Romney raised $113 million — $46.6 million of which he gave to himself.

Bringing in more than $10 million in a single day suggests that Romney is going for a financial knockout — or at least a knockdown — over his GOP opponents in the second fundraising quarter, which ends June 30.

“It’s a meaningful testimony to donor confidence in him as well as the continued loyalty of his 2008 team,” said Fred Malek, a major GOP donor who is not committed in the 2012 contest.

It’s a near-certainty that Romney will far outdistance his rivals in his first three months of active fundraising. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty lacks the fully-realized national network of Romney while former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who has considerable personal wealth, won’t be in the race long enough to stockpile funds to come anywhere near Romney’s total. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has demonstrated a capacity to raise millions but hasn’t yet decided whether to run.

How Romney’s haul affects the field remains to be seen. All of the other campaigns are doing what they can to lower expectations, noting that Romney was the top fundraiser in 2008 even though he didn’t win the nomination.

For Romney, the key then may his ability not to assert his financial dominance but to maintain it between now and early next year.

“I think if others catch political fire, they will have the ability to catch up rather rapidly,” predicted Sig Rogich, a donor and GOP strategist based in Las Vegas. “And remember, as quickly as funds come in now....they can dry up if there is a hiccup along the way.”

California House special election today: The race to replace former California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman begins today with 16 — yes, 16 -- candidates competing for a spot in the near-certain runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn are regarded as the frontrunners in the race with Marcy Winograd, who has run for the seat before, also in the mix. All three are Democrats. Craig Huey is the most credible Republican in the field but will struggle to make a runoff given the clear Democratic lean of the 36th district where President Obama won with 64 percent in 2008.

If, as expected, no one receives 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote-getters advance to a July 12 runoff.

Harman left the Los-Angeles area seat in February to take over as president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She held the seat for all but two years from 1992 to 2011.

Kentucky primary today: Kentuckians are casting primary ballots today for the state’s off-year gubernatorial election. First-term Gov. Steve Beshear is running opposed in the Democratic primary, but there’s a three-way race on the Republican side. While state Senate President David Williams is widely expected to beat businessman Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, there are a couple of factors that could cause Williams trouble.

One is Williams’ running mate, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who has made a few missteps. The other is turnout, which officials are predicting will be less than ten percent. Both rivals are predicting that low participation will help their bids. But Williams’ opponents are far behind in polls and they’ve been vastly outspent. The Williams-Farmer ticket raised $1.2 million for the bid, more than ten times either competitor.

Rick Berg officially in: Rep. Rick Berg (R) launched his Senate bid with a YouTube video Monday evening posted on his campaign website. He’s running to replace retiring North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad (D) in a state that leans Republican.

The freshman congressman, who defeated Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) last fall, says in the video that he plans “to bring much-needed change to the Senate.” He joins Public Service Commission Brian Kalk in the GOP primary.

“I expected a very full field of candidates, and I knew people would get in the race,” Kalk said recently. “I fully expect a very challenging race all the way to the convention.”

FixBits:

The House Majority PAC, a new Democratic independent expenditure group, has an ad out attacking Republican Jane Corwin in the NY-26 special election, airing on broadcast and cable.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) is taking a high-profile stand in support of her transgender stepson, Chaz Bono.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is robocalling in 12 targeted Democratic districts, saying those lawmakers are “endangering Medicare.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver separated after the former California governor admitted fathering a child over a decade ago with a household staffer.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page says Newt Gingrich told the House GOP to “drop dead.”

The Iowa GOP has laid down rules for the Ames Straw Poll.

JoAnne Kloppenburg is defending her request for a recount in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election.

Must Reads:

New York investigates bank’s role in fiscal crisis” - Gretchen Morgenson, NYT

Gingrich urges talk about his personal failings” - Thomas Beaumont, AP

The secret sharer” - Jane Mayer, The New Yorker

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