UC employees give to campaigns

    Employees of the UC system have donated at least $45,274 to Fmr. Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s campaign, nearly the amount they gave to all other presidential candidates combined, Federal Election Commission records show.

    The sum means that the University of California is Dean’s second-largest contributor, behind Time-Warner, parent company of AOL and CNN, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign money.

    Dean received 111 out of 193 contributions made by UC employees, followed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who had 23 contributions totaling $17,065.

    “”It’s a sign of the extraordinary success that Dean has had in tapping a source of money that people haven’t tapped very well before,”” Gary Jacobson, a UCSD political science professor and campaign finance expert said. “”He’s been able to raise money from folks who haven’t in the past contributed. And that has been the source of some of the success he’s had at the present time.””

    In fact, in addition to the University of California, employees of six other university systems represent six of Dean’s top 20 contributors, according to the CRP.

    “”I think that what you see is that university professors nationwide have contributed to this campaign in large numbers because they are uniquely interested in issues of social justice, civil rights and social rights that Governor Dean is talking about,”” Dean campaign spokesman Garrett Graff said.

    Democratic presidential candidates received almost 99 percent of the $101,189 given by university professors, administrative staff and employees, graduate students and scientists at the UC-managed Los Alamos National Laboratory, all of who listed University of California as their employer.

    The most generous contributor was UC Irvine physics professor Reiley Newman, whose family spread six separate contributions among four different Democratic contenders.

    “”We were particularly interested in nominating a Democratic candidate who’d be successful in this year’s election,”” Newman said.

    President George W. Bush received two contributions, totaling $1,250. The amount is less than Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who ended his bid for the Democratic nomination in October 2003.

    Bush’s low contributions indicates a different fundraising strategy, focused primarily on bigger donors who can afford to attend “”$1,000-per-head dinners,”” Jacobson said. He also believes the figures have been influenced by UC professors’ ideological leanings.

    “”[Bush] is going to get some votes from the UC, but he is not very popular among faculty types,”” Jacobson said.

    According to Jacobson, Dean’s opposition to the war in Iraq has made him a popular pick among academia.

    “”Opponents of the war are also concentrated among people with high levels of education. The UC has a lot of people who are part of his natural constituency and he has managed to tap into that group,”” Jacobson said. “”He was the most prominent critic of the administration, and that’s the message that resonates among liberal Democrats in California.””

    Professors may also not be considering whether Dean could win in a general election, an issue that has hurt him among other voters, according to UCSD assistant political science professor Thad Kousser, who specializes in California politics.

    “”Dean’s opposition to the war made him sort of the darling of liberals, especially those not very much concerned with his electability ó and I think professors probably fit into the realm of people who are generally more liberal than the general population and people who don’t think incredibly pragmatically about politics,”” Kousser said.

    In 2000, UC employees gave Al Gore $63,245 during the course of his entire campaign, and UC employees and immediate family members contributed less than $13,250 to President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign, according to the CRP.

    UCSD physics professor Clifford Surko, who gave money to a Democratic contender, believes that the large number of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination ó as many as 11 at one point ó has allowed them to appeal to a larger variety of voters.

    “”It was a very broad field, so you could see that your contribution could help define the direction that the Democratic Party went,”” Surko said.

    Contribution data examined comprised of all digital FEC records available as of Jan. 26, which include campaign contributions through September 2003. The FEC only keeps track of donations over $200.

    A September field poll indicated a 14 percent support for Dean among likely voters in California’s Democratic primary, yet Dean received 44.7 percent of UC contributions. Front-runner Gen. Wesley Clark, who at the time led with 17 percent in the poll, received only 2.7 percent, or $2,750, of UC money.

    Kousser blamed Clark’s poor showing on his eleventh-hour entry into the race and a late start in fundraising.

    Compared to most other candidates, Dean’s support has come from far smaller donations, with $408 as the average contribution. The figure is far below Kerry’s mean of $742 and Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) average of $1,054, who received $14,750 from the university’s employees.

    Clark was the only candidate to receive UC employees’ contributions smaller than Dean’s, averaging $275. Rev. Al Sharpton and former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun received nothing.

    Four of nine donations made to Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), a former trial lawyer, came from professors working at one of the UC’s law schools, including $500 from the dean of UC Hastings College of Law and $250 from an assistant dean at UCLA School of Law. Edwards received a total of $4,750.

    Despite their second-place standing among Dean contributors, the money given by UC employees represents a tiny fraction of the estimated $41 million Dean raised by the end of last year. Jacobson does not think the amount will give the university political influence should Dean make it to the White House.

    “”I think the amount of money, as a total that he needs to run, is so small that it really makes little difference,”” he said. “”I’m sure Dean is happy to get the money, but it’s not a magnificent sum.

    Both Newman and Surko said that candidates’ higher education policy did not play a significant role in choosing to a candidate to donate to.

    “”[My and my family’s] main concern was foreign policy, and we take the view that this country should work together closely with other countries in handling environmental and other international issues,”” Newman said. “”With our contributions we included letters saying that we were particularly concerned with their foreign policy objectives.””

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