Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is coming to the Valley next week for a private Fresno fundraiser and a visit to the World Ag Expo in Tulare.
Gingrich California Finance Chair Eric Beach said the delegate-rich state is playing into the former House speaker's strategy against the front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"This is the way that we present our case against Romney -- especially in the Central Valley, which has always been a Republican stronghold," Beach said.
But west-side farmer Mark Borba, who has donated to Romney, and local Republican activist Tal Cloud, who has given a small donation to Gingrich, both said Tuesday that Gingrich faces an uphill climb raising money here next week.
The main reason is the timing. Not only is the fundraiser less than a week away, but Romney has established himself as the early front-runner for the nomination.
On top of that, Romney already has twice mined the Fresno area for money at fundraisers.
Borba and Cloud said those factors will combine to make it difficult for Gingrich to raise a significant amount of cash locally. And they said it will likely make it hard to win delegates in California, which has its primary at the end of the election season.
"I donated a few hundred to Newt because I wanted to see him stay in the race," Cloud said. "I would love for him to win, but I don't think he can win."
Wendy Turner said Tuesday that the fundraiser came together quickly after a weekend meeting in Las Vegas with Gingrich's team.
The evening event will be held Tuesday -- Valentine's Day -- at the north Fresno home she shares with husband Ryan.
Turner's father is Bill Jones, the former California Secretary of State. Jones said Tuesday he didn't know whether he would endorse anyone for president: "Newt's an old friend of mine, but I have not made any decisions."
Entry to the reception is $1,000 per couple. For $2,500 a couple, attendees can get a photo with Gingrich.
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