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Perry to stop in Healdsburg next week

  • Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry, shown in this Sept. 14 file photo in New York City, is swinging by Sonoma County next week for a fund-raiser at Healdsburg's elite Jordan Vineyard and Winery. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry is swinging by Sonoma County next week for a fund-raiser at Healdsburg's elite Jordan Vineyard and Winery.

Winery CEO John Jordan is hosting the $500 per head soiree — $2,500 for a photo and private chat with the Texas governor — on the grounds of the 1,300-acre Alexander Valley winery estate Oct. 4.

“I think he's a very impressive guy,” said Jordan, who has met Perry several times through the Republican Governor's Association.

Jordan originally supported former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the race in August. Pawlenty now supports Perry's main rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

After Pawlenty stepped aside, Jordan said he offered to host an event for Perry because his political views are similar to his own: belief in free markets, free enterprise, and the sanctity of the individual over the state.

Jordan, 39, ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 1998 and has since turned his attention to running the winery his father, oil tycoon Tom Jordan, founded in 1972.

Visits by Republican presidential candidates to liberal-leaning Sonoma County are rare but not unheard of. Jordan held a fund-raiser for Pawlenty in March, and he recalls meeting Sen. John McCain at an event at Windsor's Sonoma-Cutrer during the Republican primary prior to the 2000 presidential election.

Republicans make up 22.3 percent of Sonoma County's 249,061 registered voters, while Democrats dominate the political landscape with 52 percent, according to the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters.

Jordan said he expects 100 to 150 donors to attend.

It is unclear if Perry will be making other fund-raising stops in the area next week. His campaign staff could not be reached for comment Monday.

Despite mixed reviews about Perry's recent debate performances, the three-term governor continues to lead Romney in several national polls.

A CNN/ORC International Poll puts Perry seven points ahead of Romney, while a USA Today/Gallup poll has him up by 10 points.

But the Gallup poll also showed that Romney may have a better chance of beating President Barack Obama. The poll showed voters preferred Romney to Obama 49 to 47 percent, while Perry trailed Obama 45 to 50 percent.

Electability is an important issue for Monroe Wingate, a retired real estate developer from Sonoma who was a delegate to the GOP convention in 2008. Romney is more moderate than Perry, supports securing the border, and as a businessman has a better understanding of how to create jobs, said Wingate, 80.

“He's an impressive man,” Wingate said. “I just think he's a better choice than Governor Perry.”

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