Obama for America is going all out in Hillsborough County

But that's not something for Brainerd and her colleagues to worry about right now. In fact, she says, in comparison to four years ago the campaign is excited about being organized this early on.

She said that in the past two weeks ago OFA members in HIllsborough made more than 7,500 calls and spoke with more than 1,200 people, the most in the state.

Alan Clendenin, a Democratic National Committeeman, called the early campaign infrastructure in Florida "historic."

"This president is hiring like never been seen before, and we're just in the infancy. By the time it's all said and done, the president is going to have an army on the ground in the state of Florida and in Hillsborough County."

The president's re-election campaign announced Monday that it raised $45 million in February, combining contributions to Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and two joint fundraising accounts — the Obama Victory Fund and Swing State Victory Fund.

Several press reports seized on the fact that the number was below what the Obama forces had raised at this point in 2008 — $56 million.

Team Obama reports that more than 348,000 people contributed to Obama’s re-election in February, including 105,000 first-time donors, the campaign said. All told, more than 1.5 million supporters have donated to Obama 2012. The average donation was $59.

As CL reported earlier this month, the fact that the Obama re-elect team has informed congressional Democrats not to expect any financial assistance from the DNC has caused some concerns.

There's no doubt that some big fundraising types who supported Obama in '08 have turned tail. The Washington Post reports today that at least a dozen of Romney’s top Illinois financial bundlers supported Obama in 2008, but "have turned on the president over his handling of the economic recovery, Israel or other issues."

Susan Crown, a philanthropist and member of the billionaire Crown family, has switched sides from Obama in 2008 to backing Romney now, although some of her relatives remain Obama supporters. Crown said in an interview that she was prompted to support Romney after Obama spoke in favor of a return to 1967 borders with land swaps as part of a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

“There are a lot of people here who are very disappointed in the president,” said Crown, who co-hosted a fundraiser for Romney last year with her husband. “Illinois is very important because it’s Barack Obama’s home state and it has a lot of independents. I’m an independent and I’m working as hard as I can for Mitt.”

OFA's Laura Brainerd encouraged local Democrats yesterday to submit their resumes to her, as she says they will be hiring more staffers in Hillsborough and Polk counties by summertime.

It's not a cliché to say that, as Hillsborough County goes, so goes the nation when it comes to picking our presidents. With the exception of 1992, Hillsborough has voted for the winning candidate every time since 1960.

That's why it's significant how many resources the Obama re-elect team is pouring into winning the county this year.

At the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee meeting at the Children's Board in Ybor City Monday night, Lauren Brainerd, the regional field director for President Obama's re-election team in Hillsborough and Polk counties, briefly addressed local Democrats.

Brainerd was a field organizer for OFA (Obama For America) in 2008, and a regional field director during the congressional elections in 2010. She told the crowd she believes Tampa is going to be one of the most important places in the country in the campaign to re-elect the president. "We have the ability to decide Florida by getting the I-4 corridor," she said, referring to the now famous interstate connecting Tampa to Orlando in Central Florida, where over the past decade and a half presidential elections have been fought over in the Sunshine State.

Florida is critical to election hopes of both Obama and the Republicans, with 29 electoral votes up for grabs — the country's biggest swing state. Brainerd says there are four field organizers working right now in Hillsborough County, and that no state in the nation has more paid staff working for Obama than Florida.

Brainerd observed that the Democrats' organization in the Sunshine State is much more advanced than the GOP's at the moment, as Mitt Romney slowly winds his way to becoming the GOP nominee this fall.

But there is a downside to having so much infrastructure right now: the Obama campaign is spending a lot of money in the early going.

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