Presidential candidates may be more interested in Oklahomans' money than votes 

In less than two weeks, Oklahomans head to the polls to help decide the presidential nominees. But campaigning in the Sooner State may have ended weeks ago, and Oklahoma may have already played its role in the election process.

While nearly every candidate with even microscopic national recognition made stops in Oklahoma during 2007, as days remain before the actual vote hardly any of the viable " or nonviable " candidates have pegged Oklahoma as a must-visit, let alone must-win state.

"I think Oklahoma has a long way to go before we are as important to everybody as we would like to be," said political consultant Renzi Stone, who is aiding Republican Rudy Giuliani's campaign in Oklahoma.

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But that doesn't mean the state hasn't been important to the candidates. The interest of presidential hopefuls isn't entirely based on the upcoming primary. One look at the candidates' campaign finance records, and the reason the state matters becomes obvious: money.

During the 2004 presidential election, Oklahoma set a record for its highest total contribution of any presidential race: $2.1 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

After the first three quarters of the current presidential race, the old record appears to be in jeopardy. Between January and September of 2007, more than $1.95 million in Oklahoma money was handed over to presidential contenders. And there are still nine more months of campaigning.

"This campaign has started earlier than any campaign, and that campaign needs fuel," said University of Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie. "Scott Cooper

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