Like traveling salesmen ogling a farmer's second-least hideous daughter, the two major presidential campaigns are making bedroom eyes in Oregon's direction, hoping for at least a little electoral nookie if something more attractive (like, say, Ohio and its 20 electoral votes) doesn't pan out. Luckily for both presidential hopefuls, Multnomah County has plenty of financial benefactors willing to put out.

The majority of the local donors list offers few surprises. Bush has the nearly exclusive support of executives and business owners in the lumber and construction industries--the most generous being former Kiewit Pacific Company president Richard Geary, who has given up $50,000 to the Republican National Committee since 2003, plus a $2,000 maximum individual donation directly to Bush.

The region is also home to a handful of Bush pioneers, individuals who've raised at least $100,000 for the campaign by bundling smaller checks from other individuals. They include Molly Bordonaro of public affairs/ consulting firm Gallatin Group, which considers itself "bi-partisan." She is joined by Lebanon, OR resident Paulette Pyle, who heads up the uproariously euphemistic Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a lobbying firm for the pesticide and lumber industries. Again, no real surprise.

Over the past year, William McCormick, of seafood chain McCormick & Schmick's, has stepped up to give $25,000 to the RNC. Partner Douglas Schmick kicked in a relatively paltry $2,000 to the Bush campaign.

The individual donor list contains a few $2,000-level surprises in Bush's direction, such as Tim Boyle, president of Columbia Sportswear; James Carlson, executive director of the Oregon Health Care Association; Diana Goldschmidt, vice chairwoman of the Oregon Investment Council and wife of ex-governor Neil Goldschmidt; and Lynne Saxton, CEO of the Christie School for emotionally disturbed children. Also worth mentioning is Beaverton-based metaphysical writer Hai Ho, who gave $4,000 to the RNC and $2,000 to Bush.

Of Democratic supporters who are fighting to put John Kerry in office, one of the biggest in Portland is Tin House publisher Winthrop McCormack, who gave $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee plus individual amounts to the early candidates. Other notables are Schnitzer Group president Ken Novack and Clear Creek Distillery owners Stephen and Lucinda McCarthy.

The common perception is that, compared to Bush's fundraising, Kerry has applied a more grassroots approach, harvesting a larger number of smaller donations from regular working Joes. If the sheer number of donors translates into number of votes, the end result could mean a win for Kerry.

However, according to a report by the Campaign Finance Institute, the amount of money raised nationwide by under-$200 donations is virtually the same between the two candidates--around $60 million. Both candidates greatly increased smaller donations over efforts of previous presidential hopefuls, perhaps a hangover from Howard Dean's successes with nickel and dime PayPal donations.

On the lower range of the donor scale, many Kerry supporters describe their professions as "writer," "artist," "musician," and "student," while Bush's lower-end donors are largely "retired."

Without going into specifics, Lisa Sohn, the Kerry communications director for Oregon, said the campaign has taken advantage of widespread, low-key support, pointing to house parties held by supporters aimed at gaining votes and raising money.

"We have a lot of small donors who want to do what they can," she said.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Bush/Cheney effort didn't return a phone call for comment.

by Scott Moore