Whether Patrick J. Buchanan decides to jilt the GOP may depend on whether he can raise $4 million, earmarked for a bid for the Reform Party presidential nomination, from his longtime supporters.

At least that's the message in a fund-raising letter mailed recently by Bay Buchanan, the candidate's sister and key campaign adviser.

"My advice to Pat will be that he should run for the Reform nomination . . . if we can raise the roughly $4 million it will take to qualify in the 30 states where, as of today, the Reform Party is not yet qualified for the 2000 presidential ballot," Bay Buchanan wrote.

"Your contribution will be deposited in a new account I am opening this week that will be used exclusively for a Reform Party run. If Pat decides not to seek the Reform nomination, your entire contribution will be returned to you."

The letter explained that the Reform nominee will receive "more than $12 million" in federal funds for the general election campaign, a sum that could allow Buchanan to make a "tremendous impact" on the race. But securing the nomination "won't be easy."

The $4 million figure cited in the letter is the amount Buchanan the Republican has raised this year, according to estimates released by the campaign. He has only about $250,000 in the bank, however.

Financial considerations aside, Bay Buchanan assured supporters in the letter that her brother's decision on which party to favor will be made with the utmost care.

"Ultimately, of course, this is a deeply personal decision that only Pat, together with [his wife] Shelley, can make. It is one I can tell you . . . that my brother and sister-in-law are praying over daily."

For Bush Contributors, Click Here. And Here.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush broke new ground in campaign finance disclosure last month, announcing that his campaign would list incoming contributions on the Internet (www.georgewbush.com) daily, with a delay of two weeks between when a contribution is received and when it appears online.

Thus far, however, the Bush campaign has not provided the information in a searchable format, choosing instead to post the voluminous lists in unwieldy chunks.

So the Environmental Working Group, an organization not particularly enamored of the governor's environmental record in Texas, has stepped in and created a database of Bush contributors on its Web site (www.ewg.org), searchable by last name, state, employer, occupation and amount of money given.

Why bother?

"One thing that citizens know is that big political contributors call the shots," said EWG spokesman Mike Casey. "Governor Bush took a step in the right direction by disclosing more fully and quickly than the law requires. However, we think that citizens ought to have access to that data in a searchable, easy-to-use format. So we elected to do that job for him." The Bush campaign says it welcomes the effort. Spokeswoman Mindy Tucker noted that there are several other Web sites offering similar databases. "It's a great service they provide," she said.