As many who’ve read YP for a long time know, I am pretty big on watching campaign finance. In Republican primaries, it’s huge. The correlation of those leading in campaign finance to those who win their primary is well over 90%. In other words, it’s rare for someone who legitimately outraises his opponent in Republican politics in Mississippi to lose. In my opinion, the fundraising lead is usually a manifestation of support and legitimacy, but not necessarily the cause of it.

Tuesday May 10 was the filing deadline for campaign finance reports for the period ending April 30, 2011. There weren’t too many shocking surprises, but there were a few things that stick out.

The biggest story is Tate Reeves. He has continued to post very impressive numbers and has about a $1M cash on hand advantage over Billy Hewes. Since this will only be a primary fight, a lot of PACs and companies will start trying to pick a winner here pretty soon and large chunks of money will continue to come in. Tate raised $724K this period and is boasting in his press release contributions from individuals in all 82 counties. He also spent only about $268K. Reeves also reminded voters in his press release that he has more cash on hand than Phil Bryant ($800K) and Charlie Ross ($1.1M) combined at this point four years ago.

Billy Hewes raised a little over $550K and spent about $430K. Looking a little closer at Hewes’s report, there are three large loans to his campaign this cycle that account for about $225K of that $550K. Billy Hewes loaned $75K on 4/29, John Heath loaned $75K on 4/28 and Wayne Tisdale loaned $75K on 4/29. But for those loan transactions near deadline, Hewes spent more than he took in this period. He will really have to dig in on the fundraising side to get ready for a 90 day sprint through June, July and August where cash really starts burning when TV spots go up.

Reeves vs. Hewes is the marquee race this cycle and I think will descend into (unfortunately) every bit the donnybrook that Bryant vs. Ross was 4 years before.

Speaking of Phil Bryant, he made an impressive haul. He raised $559K this period and has $2M cash on hand. Dave Dennis, his primary opponent raised $455K with $708K cash on hand. He also loaned his campaign $250K on 4/29. Spending $274K this period, but for the loan, he would have spent more than he raised.

On the Democratic side for Governor, Bill Luckett posted about $560K with a $150K loan factored in. His $500K cash on hand far outweighs Johnny Dupree’s $82K cash on hand. I’ll be watching this one closely as I think this race on the Democratic side will be much closer than the fundraising totals can indicate. Republicans can’t win primaries without money, but Democrats can. Dupree will need to attract additional resources, but Luckett will have a real fight on his hands with Dupree.

Majority in MS and Jackson Jambalaya have some more of the downticket numbers and I know more reports and analysis from all will be forthcoming.

There are a lot of candidates right now thanking their lucky stars that Haley Barbour didn’t run for president because what little political giving there is right now would have been totally sucked out by what looked to be a pretty serious fundraising machine being assembled by Barbour. Now that his candidacy seems off the table, I think the environment might just get a little easier for candidates as donors won’t be saving dry powder for a Haley 2012 run.

Keep watching the campaign dollars. As I said before, in Republican primaries at least, campaign fundraising (net of personal loans) have historically correlated with vote totals with remarkable accuracy.