By Ann E. Marimow and Sarah Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Washington area campaign donors gave more than twice as much money to Democratic presidential candidates as to Republicans last year, and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton easily surpassed rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in raising funds in the region, according to presidential campaign finance reports filed late last week.
On the Republican side, donors in the District and Virginia favored Arizona Sen. John McCain over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and Maryland residents raised the most money for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who dropped out of the race last week.
Overall, the Democratic presidential candidates collected $21.6 million, compared with the GOP's $8.7 million.
Clinton raised $10.8 million, and Obama raised $7.4 million.
Novelist John Grisham of Virginia has raised campaign cash for Clinton, and former Virginia lieutenant governor Don Beyer has collected checks for Obama. Romney has Maryland hotel magnate Bill Marriott on his side, while would-be D.C. Nationals owner Fred Malek is backing McCain.
As the candidates head into delegate-rich primaries Tuesday in states including California and New York, they continue to ask Washington region residents, who vote Feb. 12, to open their wallets.
Just before the State of the Union address last week, Obama raised money at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. That night, McCain's campaign hosted a fundraiser at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse. Former president Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was raising money for his wife at a private home in Chevy Chase.
Hillary Clinton's local fundraising edge among Democrats, consultant Anita Dunn said, comes from her deep ties to the area's Democratic establishment from eight years as first lady and from her willingness to raise money from lobbyists. Obama does not accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists or federal political action committees.
"You have a lot of Clintonistas here, living here and lobbying here. It's a very strong network," U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said. "Obama is the consummate outsider, and this is an inside-the-Beltway town."
Overall in the District, Clinton raised $4.7 million last year, compared with Obama's $3.2 million. Clinton found her most lucrative support from residents of Northwest Washington neighborhoods, including the Palisades, Georgetown and Woodley Park, followed by Montgomery County's Chevy Chase and Potomac. McLean was the only Virginia Zip code in Clinton's top 10 for the region.
Obama outpaced Clinton in Prince George's, Howard, Calvert and St. Mary's counties and in Falls Church and Fauquier County. Bowie lawyer Orlan Johnson credited Obama with attracting newcomers such as himself to the process. Johnson said he has raised more than $200,000 for Obama through intimate gatherings, such as one Wednesday night at an Italian bistro in Bowie.
Among Republicans, McCain raised $2.6 million in the region, followed by Giuliani with $2.3 million and Romney with just under $2 million. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who has been lagging in fundraising and the polls, raised $168,000, finding pockets of support in McLean, Great Falls and Centreville.
Paul Ellington, president of the national Republican recruiting organization GOPAC, said the Democratic tilt of overall donations reflects not only voter registration but also the wide-open GOP field going into the early primaries.
"Republicans had no clear front-runner around whom to rally," Ellington said. "People were hedging their bets and playing the odds."
McCain's fundraising has benefited from his more than two decades in Washington. An analysis by Public Citizen found that McCain has more federal lobbyists raising money for his campaign than any other candidate in either party.
In Virginia, McCain has had access to the fundraising networks of Davis and Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.). He was most successful in raising money from residents of McLean and Alexandria and across the river in Potomac.
Maryland residents, meanwhile, contributed more to Giuliani than any other Republican. He had the backing of Maryland's former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
Romney was ahead of McCain in Maryland overall, raising $113,000 more in Montgomery. McCain was stronger in Fairfax, pulling in $807,000 compared with Romney's almost $500,000.
Locally, Romney has been helped by President Bush's younger sister Doro Bush Koch, who co-hosted a fundraiser for him last year, and Ronald Kaufman, chairman of the executive committee of the lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide.
With a workforce heavy on lawyers, lobbyists, government workers and contractors, the District and the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and Virginia donated $30.3 million to candidates in 2007, according to reports of itemized contributions of more than $200. Overall, Virginia ranked eighth nationally for presidential primary contributions, followed by ninth-ranked Maryland and the District at No. 11.
Both parties found the most campaign cash in the region's largest jurisdictions: the District and Montgomery and Fairfax counties. The District's Northwest Zip code that includes the Palisades and Tenleytown led the region and ranked eighth nationally, contributing almost $2 million to candidates.
Chevy Chase was fourth in the region and 14th in the country, contributing $1.5 million, and McLean ranked seventh in the region and 26th nationally, donating $1 million.
Obama counts D.C. developer Herb Miller and Montgomery developer Aris Mardirossian among his donors, while D.C. developer James J. Abdo is listed on Clinton's Web site as a bundler, or a supporter who agrees to donate his or her own money and collect checks from others.
Some donors have covered their bases. Black Entertainment Television Chief Executive Debra Lee said in an e-mail that she has raised funds for Obama and Clinton.
Local supporters echoed their candidates' national messages. Wayne Rogers, a former Maryland Democratic Party chairman who is raising money for Clinton, said the country has "challenges at home, we have challenges abroad" and "what we really need is a strong president that can step right in."
In the past year, Obama appeared at two fundraisers at the Chevy Chase home of former state senator Stewart Bainum Jr. and another at the Potomac home of businessman and philanthropist Josh Rales, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year.
"We are drawn to him because we believe he possesses the character and self-awareness that is pretty rare for political leaders," said Bainum, chairman of Silver Spring-based Choice Hotels. "He brings people together."
The Democratic fundraising advantage in the area, said public policy professor Donald F. Norris of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, reflects the region's political demographics.
"You always want to go fishing and hunting where the game is, and the game is definitely plentiful for the Democratic Party and less plentiful for the Republicans," he said.
Staff writer Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.