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Red, Blue, and Green: County voters open wallets for presidential candidates

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Johnson County residents have been giving presidential candidates donations both large and small, shelling out nearly twice as much in campaign contributions as they did four years ago.

They’ve given more money to Republican Mitt Romney this campaign season. But Democrat Barack Obama has more donors from Johnson County.

Romney has raised $70,412 from 102 Johnson County residents since the start of the election campaign season, or about $20,000 more than Obama, according to Federal Election Commission records. He’s raised more than twice as much as Republican John McCain did from Johnson County donors four years ago, when McCain ran for president.

Statewide, Romney also leads Obama in fundraising. He’s pulled in $3.5 million from Indiana residents, while Obama has raised almost $3.4 million.

Together, Romney and Obama have raised about a third more from Indiana residents than the two major party nominees did in the 2008 presidential election. Johnson County residents have contributed about $50,000 more to the nominees than they did last time.

Johnson County residents also gave about $12,000 to other Republican presidential candidates, chiefly Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

So far this year, Obama has raised $51,202 from 113 Johnson County donors. He’s pulled in about 30 percent more in campaign contributions from Johnson County wallets than the $39,000 he raised in the last election.

Both last time and this time, he’s raised far more in heavily Republican Johnson County than previous Democratic presidential candidates. For example, Democrat John Kerry raised $8,750 during his 2004 presidential campaign.

Eleven more Johnson County residents have given contributions to Obama than Romney this campaign season. But Romney donors reached deeper into their wallets, giving an average of $237 more each to Romney.

Many of the donors on both sides have repeatedly given candidates smaller donations over time instead of cutting one large check.

Donations ranged from $3 to $5,000 and came from people from all walks of life, according to FEC records. Romney’s Johnson County donors included an artist, a professor, a soldier, a gemologist, a pilot and an air traffic controller.

Obama’s Johnson County donors included a railroad conductor, a priest, a veterinarian, an unemployed teacher and a few doctors.

Both candidates received money from business owners, corporate executives and retirees.

Information technology project manager Keith Hardin, a former Greenwood City Council member, gave $2,500 to Romney and also donated to and campaigned for other Republican candidates. Hardin said he donated the maximum amount in the presidential race for the first time this year because of the high stakes of the election.

“I don’t know where to begin,” he said. “My savings and investments have deteriorated since Obama took office. The economy is certainly the concern, and how he’s treating small businesses when they’re already not generating enough income to be hiring. He’s trying to keep taxing the same pool when there’s nothing left in the pot.”

Hardin said the economy has gotten worse since Obama took office, and he didn’t like the president’s foreign policy, particularly how he seemed apologetic about America.

He said he liked that Romney had been involved in several successful businesses and should have the experience needed to turn the economy around.

“From an economic standpoint, he knows how to create jobs,” he said. “That’s something the Republican Party has done for years by reducing taxes and taking the handcuffs off small businesses. Obama promised he would do that, but he hasn’t been able to positively affect the economy in four years. His policies don’t work, and it’s time to let the Republicans take the economy back.”

Center Grove area resident Ralph Moore donated to Obama in both elections. This time, he’s given $180 through a series of small donations.

The self-described yellow-dog Democrat said he’s a retired union member who doesn’t want Romney and the Republicans to take power. He said he was particularly concerned with the Supreme Court justices Romney could appoint.

“I hate to say it, but I’d support any Democrat over any Republican on principle,” he said. “They’re anti-labor. They want to do away with Social Security and Medicare.”

Moore said his main goal was to get Obama elected again. He said he believed the economy was getting better.

“I think we should stay on the current path for the next few years,” he said. “I don’t want to change course.”

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