Hillary Clinton the fundraising front-runner in Pitkin County | AspenTimes.com

Hillary Clinton the fundraising front-runner in Pitkin County

Joel Stonington

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. speaks on military readiness in Iraq during a news conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Lauren Victoria Burke/AP)

Pitkin County residents have thrown financial weight behind Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2006 election cycle, earning her the top fundraising spot in the 81611 ZIP code. The fact Clinton is the leader for raising money brings up questions about why she is garnering such support so far in a Senate campaign. Though she is up for election as a senator from New York, she is also considered a strong contender for the 2008 presidential election.

Her receipts from Aspen tallied $43,900 as of early September, though it is only a pittance compared with her total fundraising since 2001: $47 million.Clinton’s fundraising, according to the website OpenSecrets.org, is more than the three other candidates from the area in the top 10, combined: U.S. Rep. John Salazar at $14,300, Rep. Mark Udall at $13,850 and Peggy Lamm at $7,350. “It’s not odd at all,” said Camilla Auger, the Pitkin County Democratic chairwoman. “She’s the front-runner for the nomination for president, and she’s raised money here for years.”In a Gallup poll in July, Clinton received far stronger marks as a presidential candidate than John Edwards, Al Gore or John Kerry. And in a Time poll, also in July, she was only 2 percentage points behind U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a hypothetical matchup.

No major political party has ever nominated a woman as a presidential candidate, though Clinton has already broken cultural standards by becoming the only first lady to run for office and first woman New York state elected to the U.S. Senate. Clinton’s level of fundraising and her national popularity have led to rampant speculation in the media about a bid for president. It has also been cause for debate about whether America would elect a female president. “Many more conservative countries than ours have had successful women leaders,” Auger said. “Right now, Ireland attributes its successful economy to its woman leader. We are playing catch-up with regards to the election of a woman.”

The Clinton campaign did not comment on a possible run for president.”Senator Clinton greatly enjoyed the time she spent with friends in Pitkin County this summer, and she appreciates the support she’s received,” said campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis.Much of the political donations from Aspen are going to political action committees. Straight Talk America, a group supporting McCain, has earned $26,000. Other groups on the top 10 are Forward Together PAC, DNC Services Corp., Club for Growth and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com