Washington – When it came to raising political money, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the favorite candidate in Connecticut in the race for the White House during the second quarter of the year.
According to a CT Mirror analysis of the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Buttigieg raised nearly $199,000 in Connecticut during the quarter, and nearly $25 million nationally.
Vice President Joe Biden, who entered the race in late April, raised about $166,000 in the state and nearly $22 million nationally.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, raised $137,759 in Connecticut from April 1 to June 30, and about $26 million across the nation.
After Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., raised the most money in the state, a little more than $91,000. Then came Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif,, who pummeled Biden for his opposition to school busing in the 1970s and said the attack has helped her raise campaign money.
Harris’ campaign raised nearly $80,000 in Connecticut, about half of Biden’s take.
Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, raised about $69,000.
Fundraising heating up
FEC records show presidential fundraising is heating up in Connecticut. While it’s still early in the campaign, and lots of big money fundraisers haven’t been held in the state yet, there’s evidence Connecticut residents are beginning to make their picks among candidates in a very crowded Democratic field.
Audrey Blondin, a lawyer in Torrington, was a Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
But now she donates to the campaign of “Mayor Pete” as Buttigieg is fondly called by his supporters.
Blondin said she and other family members first noticed Buttigieg because her husband, brother-in-law and son all attended the University of Notre Dame, which is located in South Bend, Ind.
“We have a family fondness for South Bend,” she said.
Blondin said she then took note of Buttigieg’s resume — he’s a Rhodes scholar and veteran as well as the chief executive of a small city – and what she calls the mayor’s “pragmatism.”
Blondin says she appreciates the mayor’s rejection of a “Medicare for all” health care plan that would eliminate private insurance in favor of a “more practical” approach to health care reform. She also said she likes the mayor’s status as a millennial who brings a new perspective to the Democratic Party.
“Any of the top (Democratic) candidates I wouldn’t have a problem with,” Blondin said. “But I feel Mayor Pete has a particular depth and breadth of knowledge and experience. That really could make a difference.”
Deidre Goodrich of Middletown, who works for a non-profit, has arranged to make monthly donations of $25 to Warren’s campaign.
Goodrich said she’s been a supporter of Warren since the senator established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFBP, during the Obama administration. The CFBP is a federal agency that aims to police Wall Street to prevent the financial practices that led the 2008 crash of the U.S. economy.
“I thought she was smart and that she was doing a lot of work and wanted to steer the ship right after the great recession,” Goodrich said.
Besides donating money to Warren’s White House bid, Goodrich said she also signed up as a campaign volunteer.
“My admiration for her continues to grow,” she said.
Charles Church, an attorney in Salisbury, said he donated to Warren’s campaign because she’s “whip smart” and has the best chance to standing up to Trump – who ridicules Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry by repeatedly calling the senator “Pocahontas.”
“I like the way she conducts herself,” Church said.
For Michael Buxbaum, who donated $600 to the former vice president’s campaign last quarter, Biden is the best choice if Democrats want to unseat Trump.
“I kind of made up my mind I’m supporting Biden unless he gets knocked down too much in the primaries so he is no longer the front-runner,” Buxbaum said.
An attorney who lives in East Haven, Buxbaum said he’s not opposed to the progressive ideas of some of the Democratic candidates for the White House.
But he said that as 65-year-old, he grew up during the Cold War and believes socialism means totalitarianism to many.
“I know a bazillion people in the United States that hear the “S word, — socialism — and they think of tanks rolling down the streets,” he said.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, and his wife, Annie, each gave the maximum under federal law for the Democratic primary election — $2,800 — to Biden’s campaign. Lamont has publicly endorsed Biden’s candidacy.
Nationally and in Connecticut, Biden has received more from donors who have “maxed out” like the Lamonts, than the other Democrats running for president who are funding their campaigns with small-dollar donations. Trump is also raising most of his money through small donations.
Biden’s fundraising shows he has support among the most influential Democratic donors and fundraisers.
But he won’t be able to return to donors who already gave his campaign the $2,800 maximum and ask for more. Meanwhile, his opponents who are raising more checks in $10 and $20 increments can keep returning to these small-dollar donors over the course of the primary.
Biden, however, will be able to return to his big money donors to raise money for the general election – if he emerges as the Democrat’s choice to run against Trump.