Long Island Republican political donors gave more cash to Marco Rubio than Jeb Bush in the last three months of 2015, foreshadowing the Florida senator’s surge in the Iowa presidential caucus Monday, recent federal campaign finance filings show.
Local Democrats continued to favor Hillary Clinton over her rival Bernie Sanders, but, ahead of her razor-thin victory in Iowa, her fundraising on Long Island remained flat over the last two quarters.
That’s the snapshot provided by the presidential campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday listing donors who gave at least $200 during the final three months of 2015. The totals do not include smaller donations or super PAC funds.
During 2015, Long Island Democrats gave a total of $1.3 million to Clinton and $135,185 to Sanders.
Republicans donated $518,518 to Bush, $278,227 to Rubio and $157,550 to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who won the Iowa Republican caucuses.
But it is the trends in giving that indicate how Long Islanders felt about the candidates in the final months of last year as the primary season neared, starting with Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
Rubio, who finished in a strong third place with 23 percent of the ballots in Iowa, raised $139,598 on Long Island during the fourth quarter while Bush, who registered less than 3 percent in the caucuses, collected $99,643.
That’s a big shift from the third quarter, when Rubio received $60,149 and Bush — then the top Republican presidential candidate — raised $287,375, more than any of his GOP rivals.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he was surprised by that trend because the Bush family has strong ties to Long Island. King offered two possible explanations for the shift.
“One is that even the strong Bush supporters see that he is having a hard time getting a campaign going and time is running out,” King said. “And Marco Rubio is considered by many to be the best alternative to Trump and especially to Ted Cruz.”
Trump is self-financing his campaign. Cruz came in third among in GOP money from Long Island in the fourth quarter with $56,171.
“It looks like it’s a three-way race” between Cruz, Rubio and Trump, said Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle. “As far as fundraising, it will become a two-man show between Rubio and Cruz.”
Clinton, a former Secretary of State and U.S. senator from New York, remains the most successful fundraiser on Long Island among all candidates. She bested Sanders, the Democratic Socialist senator from Vermont, and Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who quit the race Monday.
Yet Clinton’s take in the fourth quarter from Long Island was $280,983, about the same as the $281,176 in the third quarter and much less than the $722,626 in the second quarter.
Sanders raised $75,589 last quarter, up from $42,416 in the previous quarter. About 75 percent of his donations are under $200 and not reflected in that total. But even if those small contributions were included, he would still be behind Clinton.
Jay Jacobs, Nassau County Democratic chairman, said he isn’t worried about the drop.
He said Clinton raised more in the second quarter because she came to Long Island for a fundraiser at his Laurel Hollow home in June and collected about $300,000.
“Let’s face it, in any fundraising like that, the low-hanging fruit goes first and is easiest. Then when that’s gone, you’ve got to work harder to climb up the tree,” Jacobs said.