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Campaign watch

Second-quarter campaign finance reports show Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett raised $338,295 since April 1 – almost ten times as much as Democratic challenger Glenda Ritz raised in the same period.

As of June 30, Bennett had $779,192 in his campaign chest; Ritz had $24,532.

Bennett's largest contribution – $75,000 – was from hotel/billboard magnate Dean White, whose son Bruce was appointed to the Purdue board of trustees by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Daniels made his own contribution to Bennett through his Aiming Higher PAC. The $25,000 gift was made June 21, the same day the governor was named as Purdue's next president. ""Effective immediately, I will recuse myself from any partisan political activities or commentary," Daniels said upon his appointment and, apparently, after he made a generous gift to his fellow Republican office-holder.

Bennett's other big contributors are charter school benefactor Christel DeHaan, who gave the first-term Republican $50,000; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave $40,000; and Hoosiers for Economic Growth, seemingly a funnel for contributions from a group of Pennsylvania hedge-fund managers, which contributed $25,000.

Ritz's largest gift was a $30,000 contribution from I-PACE, the political action committee for the state teachers' union.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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