When Texas Gov. George W. Bush comes to Buffalo on Monday, he and his front-running GOP presidential campaign will not leave empty-handed.
Local sources said Tuesday that Bush will raise well above $100,000 at a breakfast event in the Rich Renaissance Atrium on Niagara Street. And if the current pace continues, according to the sources, Western New York could contribute as much as $200,000 to a campaign treasury that has already broken records by topping $50 million.
"We are looking at a very successful effort," said Anthony H. Gioia, the veteran GOP fund-raiser heading the local event.
At 8 a.m. here on Monday, Bush is scheduled to kick off a two-day fund-raising swing through New York State. He then will push on to similar affairs in Rochester and Syracuse, followed by a major fund-raising event in Manhattan on Tuesday. Campaign insiders say the effort will raise money in the "multimillion" category.
The Buffalo fund-raising event costs $1,000 per ticket, and has commanded the personal attention of Gov. Pataki, who has been mentioned in some circles as a potential Bush running mate and is expected to take a prominent role in all the New York events next week. Also expected to assume a key role in the local event is Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, who is part of a House GOP group helping to coordinate the Bush campaign.
Several sources say Bush might make an additional stop in Buffalo on Monday, most likely at a venue that will highlight one of his campaign themes.
Reynolds said that in conjunction with the summer event for which he was co-host with former Rep. Bill Paxon, Western New York will have already contributed more than $300,000 to the Bush campaign.
"You put that with the following day in New York City, and we will have drawn the significant weight of New York's fund raising," Reynolds said, "all easily engaged by Pataki and company."
Reynolds emphasized that the governor has personally directed the Bush effort in New York State, asking Gioia to run the Buffalo event and other allies to do the same in the other cities.
"He's hands-on, wants to be involved, and is involved," Reynolds said.
Other players include Rep. Jack F. Quinn, R-Hamburg, and Charles A. Gargano, Pataki's economic-development chief who is mentioned as a possible Bush lieutenant in the forthcoming campaign.
But Pataki may command almost as much attention as Bush as he shepherds the GOP front-runner through the state. He is now in California raising funds for his own national ambitions.
"In addition to talking about the changes that we've been able to make in New York State and his record of success in New York State, he will be also discussing the importance of electing George Bush as president," Pataki spokeswoman Zenia Mucha told the Associated Press regarding the California trip.
As a result, Pataki's close association with Bush here and throughout the statewide trip is likely to fuel even more speculation about his efforts to land the second spot on the GOP ticket.
"I think the governor of New York is always on the short list for national office" is all Reynolds would say about Pataki's prospects. "I think George Pataki wants to see New York do well for George Bush."
Meanwhile, GOP allies say Gioia has worked tirelessly to promote the Bush event, and the organizer said Tuesday that he has an ulterior motive:
"In addition to wanting to help George W. Bush, we want Western New York to look good and for this event to look good for Gov. Bush and Gov. Pataki."