As chairman of a House Science and Technology Committee panel over the last four years, Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi has been a vocal advocate of U.S. space exploration, calling for the resumption of manned flights.

That stand has served his re-election campaign well, too, bringing a pile of cash that helped him stave off a primary challenge last spring.

From Jan. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30 of this year, the chairman of the Space Subcommittee has collected at least $73,000 from political action committees and employees for aerospace contractors. Among them is a PAC for Tesla creator Elon Musk’s SpaceX Corp., founded with the goal of colonizing Mars.

The out-of-state donations are in keeping with Palazzo’s overall fundraising pattern as he closes in on winning a third term in office. More than half of the $882,620 he collected through Sept. 30 came from PACs representing special interests, nearly all of them from outside Mississippi, a computer-assisted McClatchy analysis of his donations found.

Only $13,731, or 1.5 percent of his total, came in small donations – those under $200.

The percentage of small donors “is far, far lower than we usually see, even with incumbents, who tend to get less of their money in small donations than challengers do,” said Viveca Novak, a spokeswoman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington-based group that tracks campaign fundraising.

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