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During 3Q, Bush Country Becomes Thompson Territory

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2007-10-17-thompsontexflag.jpgTexans have sent America two of the last three presidents in the form of the Bush family. But in 2008, it remained unclear who Texas Republicans would pull for.

If third quarter fundraising results are any indication, it could be former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson.

The TV and film actor and late presidential entrant raised around $1.2 million in the third quarter, data from Huffington Post's Fundrace shows, a sizable portion of his total earnings of more than $8 million. You could almost say that Thompson struck a gusher in his fundraising efforts in the state while the other candidates started to see their wells tap out: Rudy Giuliani earned around $973,000 in the quarter, and Mitt Romney found only a $507,000 trickle.

One observer of Texas politics said that the state's conservatives finally found a candidate they could connect with.

"For whatever reason, Texas Republicans, especially the money guys, have been keeping their powder dry," said Blaine Bull, a founding partner of the Austin-based communications firm ViaNovo. "They didn't like the choices of McCain, Romney, and Giuliani, and Thompson was out there as the conservative alternative, and that worked."

But Bull argued that Texas Republicans' fixation on Thompson might not be permanent. Noting that some of the "shine had come off the star," the former staffer to Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen pointed to Republican Governor Rick Perry's endorsement of Giuliani. He said it could help out the ex-New York City mayor with fundraising in the stretch.

"It will give him legitimacy with the Republican base because Governor Perry has been outspoken on important issues," he said. "He went out to California, and took shots at Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling him to be a Reagan Republican, and that helps Giuliani with folks who think he's not a conservative."

But others in Texas disagreed with the effect of Perry's backing.

"He's not a terribly influential figure, and I'm not sure if donors will turn to him for guidance," said George C. Edwards III, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University. "It probably doesn't hurt, but Perry is not a dominant figure in Texas."

Corralling the support of Texas Republicans will be important to the GOP nominee in 2008. George W. Bush took $23 million in the state in 2004, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But as for the real Bush Country, the area surrounding the President's ranch near Crawford, Texas, that's a different question. No donors neighboring the "Western White House" have ponied up for Republicans or Democrats in the 2008 race.

Search more on Fundrace here.