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Right where he needs to be.

A recent article in the National Review caught my eye. In it Jim Geraghty profiles former Florida Speaker of the House and current Senate hopeful Marco Rubio and his primary campaign versus Governor Charlie Crist.

Rubio, a well-spoken conservative with a sizeable fundraising gap between him and the absolutely loaded Crist, is facing an uphill climb to win the Florida GOP primary.

While he’s behind in the polls, among those who had heard of both candidates, Crist is favored by only 33 percent to Rubio’s 31 percent. Clearly, despite the fundraising disadvantage, Rubio can’t be counted out.

In Ohio, a fundraising disadvantage has made similar news.

The Kasich campaign has taken some heat of late for their fundraising numbers. While a few depict his cash disadvantage as one of a stagnant campaign, another simply considers it lazy.

And both are far from the truth. While, like Rubio, Kasich is currently behind in the money race, there are a number of distinct differences between the Florida and Ohio races. And it’s the one that matters. A poll taken a full month ago had Kasich in a statistical dead heat versus Strickland. Rubio doesn’t enjoy that luxury.

And what about the fundraising number? Kasich raised over $515,000 in just over a month. The only Ohio candidate who raised more per month was Rob Portman, and we’ve gone over the national accolades he’s received for his efforts. [DJ note: Check the link. You’ll see I was pretty darn close to predicting Kasich’s fundraising haul.]

No, the rate of fundraising doesn’t help when the opponent has a nice headstart, but it does show that Kasich is a candidate that is capable of attracting major fundraising dollars. While he hasn’t hosted a major fundraiser yet, the one-month haul is evidence enough that his appeal will bring in the dollars he needs by the time he will actually have to start spending in amounts that would make all of us blush.

Another sign that anyone is far from concerned? Unlike the Ohio Democratic Party and several of their candidates, the ORP didn’t feel the need to pad Kasich’s numbers with an extra 100-200k, despite the fact that they have the available cash in their candidate’s fund.

Furthermore, the importance and national profile of the race alone will ensure that neither candidate will want for money. This campaign will be a referendum on Ted Strickland and whether John Kasich is the man to take his place. It won’t be about money. And come this time next year, no one will remember nor care about 30 days in June of ’09.

But circling back to the NRO article, Geraghty’s piece included one quote that particularly stood out, and it’s as apt for Rubio as it is for Kasich:

Patrick Ruffini recently wrote, “Ask presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney how far early, high dollar bundler support got them. Or Virginia Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe how much a 10-to-1 cash advantage is worth. Underfunded candidates like Rubio don’t need more money now. They need an argument. A bulletproof argument from a plausible candidate is worth tens of millions of dollars in any primary, overwhelming a financial advantage of any magnitude.”

Kasich has that argument. But he also has poll numbers and a solid fundraising base that Rubio could only dream of. It’s a base that will enable him to raise the money necessary to defeat Ted Strickland.

And anyone that knows him has plenty of confidence that he’s going to continue working his tail off to make it happen.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.

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