County residents pony up campaign donations
Margaret Landis, of Fort Leavenworth, contributed $1,000 to the John McCain campaign for president. Landis said she's never donated to a candidate before but felt so strongly about McCain that she decided she would try to help the man she described as "a veteran who served his country."
"I truly believe in this guy," she said. "He believes the same I do on issues and I think he is willing to work with Democrats as well as Republicans."
She said now more than ever, campaign contributions are determining the success of a candidate. She believes that as a "regular" person, contributing to a campaign gave her the chance to get involved and influence the outcome of the election.
She's not alone among military personnel and civilians at Fort Leavenworth making contributions.
Since the 2006 congressional elections, $5,415 has been sent in contributions from Fort Leavenworth to candidates for federal offices.
That's a drastic difference from Fort Riley, near Junction City in Geary County. No money has been donated during that time from anyone in the Fort Riley ZIP code.
A giving county
Donations to federal candidates from Leavenworth County exceeded Kansas counties of similar or larger size.
As an example, Leavenworth County residents, with $53,040, donated nearly as much as their neighbors in the more populous Wyandotte County, which contributed $53,778.
Based on total population, Leavenworth County has contributed 72 cents per person, while Wyandotte gave just 34 cents per person.
Geary County, home to Fort Riley, has donated a total of $14,625, or 52 cents per person.
Like Fort Leavenworth with Kansas University in neighboring Douglas County, Fort Riley is next to Kansas State University in Riley County.
Douglas County made $170,578 in federal contributions, or $1.70 a person; Riley County made $83,767 in donations, or $1.33 a person.
Individually, Leavenworth residents donated $32,000 or about .90 per person; Tonganoxie $3,200, or about 1.17 per person; and Lansing $11,425, or about 1.24 per person.
Basehor and Linwood both donated $500, while Easton had a $250 contribution.
When stacked against most cities in eastern Kansas, most communities in Leavenworth County donated more per person than any other except Topeka or the two college-community of Lawrence.
No straight ticket
Jeff Coatney was solely responsible for the contribution out of Linwood. He donated $500 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Coatney, owner of the New Linwood Cafe, said he doesn't have a set amount for contributing to campaigns and he doesn't necessarily do it every year.
"I don't have any set amount and it's mainly issue-oriented," he said. "If there's a certain issue that I feel should go a certain way, I will contribute."
Coatney added that he generally has found the Republican Party in line with his own thinking, although he doesn't consistently vote Republican.
"I will vote for a Democratic candidate if they are a superior choice," Coatney said.
"I usually find them more in line with my own thinking. (Referring to the Republican Party) However I don't consistently vote republican. I will vote for a Democratic candidate if they are a superior choice."
Regarding this year, Coatney explained there was no specific reasoning for his contribution. It simply was a general contribution.
He didn't identify any candidates for the presidency who he thought were especially worthy of financial support.
He is, however, most sympathetic with John McCain's campaign.
Paying her "dues"
Tonganoxie resident Mildred McMillon has not made specific campaign contributions since the last congressional race.
However, she did donate $200 to the Democratic National Committee. The Georgia native who is a Tonganoxie School Board member, said she annually makes a payment to the DNC and calls it her "annual dues."
However, she wasn't always a Democrat.
She was raised a Democrat, but when McMillon moved to Tonganoxie, she met a woman who told her "anyone who is anybody in Tonganoxie is a Republican."
"When I moved out here I wanted to be somebody," McMillon said with a laugh.
She served as a precinct person for the Republican Party, but later helped campaign for President Jimmy Carter in his unsuccessful re-election bid. McMillon, who went to college with future first lady Rosalynn Carter.
McMillon has been donating to the DNC since that time.
And this year, she said she feels as though she has another interest with Hillary Clinton.
When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he served as chairman of the bi-partisan Education Commission of States in 1990.
McMillon, who also has Kansas State Board of Education, attended an ECS convention in which Hillary Clinton was speaking about school law.
"I thought, 'That's the smartest woman I have ever heard talk,'" McMillon said. "Her statistics, her facts; she didn't have notes. She didn't refer to notes.
"I just kind of kept track through the years with them. No personal relationship, but kept an eye on their doings and everything."
As for the Democratic and Republican parties, McMillon had this to say: "To tell you the truth, I have not found that much difference between the two parties. It's the person."
- Lawrence Journal-World reporter Jonathan Kealing, Lansing Current reporter/copy editor Nicole Kelley and Basehor Sentinel reporter Lara Hastings contributed to this story.