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Heated Republican presidential race draws more Long Islanders' cash

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is shown in this file photo taken in Davenport, Iowa on Oct. 6, 2015. Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall

WASHINGTON - More Long Islanders opened their checkbooks for candidates in the crowded and tumultuous Republican race for president than for Democrats from July through September, reversing Hillary Rodham Clinton's dominance earlier this year, the latest disclosure reports show.

Of the $974,297 that individuals on Long Island gave to one of the 21 authorized presidential campaigns last quarter, nearly $7 of every $10 went to Jeb Bush or another Republican candidate.

That's a flip from the previous quarter, when Clinton and other Democrats received two-thirds of the $1.1 million in individual local donations to the presidential campaign funds.

And despite his recent sagging polls, Bush has continued to lead the GOP pack in individual-donor fundraising on Long Island. He more than doubled his receipts to $290,125 from the previous quarter, when he raised $131,450. For the year, Bush has raised $421,575.

Clinton raised just $288,789 in the last quarter, a sharp drop from the $730,726 she picked up in the previous quarter, which was 63 percent of all money contributed in that period to a presidential campaign from Long Island.

But Clinton still leads the Democratic field. She has raised $1 million on Long Island during the past year, the most of any presidential candidate, records show.

The shift toward Republicans came as the GOP field expanded to 16 candidates -- it's now 14 -- and as Clinton came under increasing fire for using a private email server while secretary of state.

"That's a period of time when the number of Republican alternatives began to grow, so Republicans had a lot of candidates to choose from," said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies.

"Any sense of vulnerability for Clinton is going to make Republicans think that giving to one their candidates might not be a bad investment," he said.

The presidential campaign finance reports filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission offer a snapshot of which candidates Long Islanders favored last summer.

An individual can give up to $5,400 to each of the authorized presidential campaigns. Candidates control those funds and how they are used. These figures do not include donations to super PACs that run ads for candidates but by law can't coordinate with them.

Rivals to Bush and Clinton within their own parties lag far behind in raising funds from Long Islanders.

Among Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) comes closest to Bush. He raised $66,599 last quarter on top of $75,760 in the previous quarter. For the year, he has collected a total of $142,359.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker raised the third most on Long Island last quarter, with $60,000. But he quit the race last month.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was next with $46,078.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) added $31,114 last quarter to the $70,000 he raised earlier to remain in third in the GOP field in Long Islanders' donations with $101,129 for the year.

Among Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised the second most last quarter, $44,165. That allowed him to leap over former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who picked up a single $500 donation after raising $32,450, the second most for a Democrat, in the previous quarter.

Some candidates saw a jump in the number of small donations during the summer.

Long Islanders made 400 contributions totaling $44,165 to Sanders, an average of about $110 each. Republican Ben Carson tripled the number of donations to 222, averaging nearly $160 each for a total of $35,241. And Cruz had 276 averaging about $115 each.

Clinton last quarter had 518 contributions, averaging about $560 each. In the previous quarter, she collected 524 donations averaging nearly $1,400 each.

On Aug. 30, Clinton held three fundraisers in the Hamptons, where she was vacationing with her husband, Bill. That helped her campaign collect nearly 300 contributions that were part of the $173,840 she raised in Suffolk County.


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