The presidential primary is well underway with the first official Republican debate happening August 6th.
It’s no secret that raking in cash is key in any campaign–and to date, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are two of the biggest fundraisers. Both represent the establishments of their respective parties, and the money they’ve raised reflects it.
It should come as no surprise given their backgrounds, that Jeb and Hillary are the two candidates who have brought in the highest amounts of dollars from the Washington D.C. area.
As a campaign finance disclosures show, Jeb Bush is the most popular GOP candidate among Washington’s bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists. Given the Bush family’s longstanding influence in Republican politics, it shouldn’t be shocking that Jeb raises what he does from these sources.
As the Center For Responsive Politics, a group that tracks the influence of money in the political process reported, “(Washington D.C.) and its environs ranked as the Bush campaign’s No. 1 metropolitan area thus far in terms of individual contributions, at $927,935 – including more than $78,000 from D.C.- area lobbyists.”
Despite this, Jeb Bush is trying to paint himself as a Washington outsider. As the Center For Responsive Politics noted in its report, Bush fashioned himself as above Beltway trivialities during his campaign announcement.
“When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) announced his run for the presidency back in June, he tried to cast himself as a Washington outsider — despite his family’s long-standing ties to the nation’s capital. ‘We are not going to clean up the mess in Washington by electing the people who either helped create it or have proven incapable of fixing it,’ he said.”
As Florida’s former governor, this could be a believable narrative; if only Bush had a different last name. It’s virtually impossible however, to escape the reality that both your father and brother are former U.S. presidents.
Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and leading Democratic candidate for president also raised huge sums from Washington D.C., and unsurprisingly, Wall Street. As the Center For Responsive Politics noted, “The candidate who has received the most Washington money by far, however, is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) at a little over $4.7 million.”
“A list of her top individual contributions by zip code also lists three zip codes in Washington (including the top zip code), and one in Chevy Chase, MD — part of the greater metropolitan area,” the report said.
On the other side of this fundraising spectrum is Rand Paul. While he did raise $115,468 from individual donors in the D.C. metro area, Paul’s overall fundraising reflects strong and diverse grassroots support. His average donation amount is $65, and he doesn’t have strong ties to industries that rely on government favoritism. Not exactly a surprise given his free market values.
Whether other candidates can overcome the Bush and Clinton machines in the presidential primaries is still an open question. Grassroots influence has beat out establishment money in past political races. That is after all, how Rand Paul became a U.S. Senator in the first place.
The question is, can that enthusiasm and on-the-ground work translate on a presidential level?