Through the end of November, contributors with Clark County ZIP codes donated $244,700 directly to presidential candidates for the 2019-20 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Trump’s re-election campaign is leading the way and has collected $72,500 in direct contributions, almost twice the amount as his nearest competitor for local fundraising. Trump has received more than 1,200 contributions from county residents, a count that includes repeat donors who contributed on two or more occasions.
Trump’s record of cutting taxes, loosening government regulations, cracking down on illegal immigration and appointing conservative judges has made him immensely popular with his Republican base.
Clark County Republican Party Chair Earl Bowerman said county residents donating to Trump’s campaign are looking to help their candidate nationally.
“The donations that are made are not to help Donald Trump carry Washington state because he won’t,” Bowerman said.
Sanders raises $37,100
Trump has raised more money locally than any of the other 31 other current and former candidates for the nation’s top office. Those candidates, 28 Democrats and three Republicans, include 15 who already have dropped out before the nominating process officially begins with the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.
Trump’s closest opponent in this local financial competition is Sen. Bernie Sanders, who visited Vancouver during the 2016 campaign. The self-described democratic socialist from Vermont has received $37,100 from more than 1,000 county donations. He is the only candidate who comes close to matching Trump for number of local donations.
Some Democrats still in the race, such as Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, haven’t raised any money from county residents. Two billionaires seeking the Democratic nomination, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer, are largely self-financing their campaigns.
Local fundraising could reflect the competitive race within the Democrat Party as a handful of top-tier candidates battle to see who will square off against Trump in November.
“We had upwards of, what, 26 candidates at one time,” said John Oberg, Clark County Democrat Party chair. “We are seeing that narrow down.”
Three Democrats — Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind. — have raised a combined $97,800 in Clark County. If you don’t consider local contributions to joint fundraising committees, those three candidates have raised $25,300 more than Trump locally.
Oberg said some Democrats are asking for small donations so they meet requirements to qualify for upcoming debates.
“Folks are actually out there doing the volunteering for the different candidates,” he added. “Maybe they are doing that in lieu of a donation at this particular time.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, widely seen as the strongest candidate to go toe-to-toe with Trump this year, hasn’t gotten much financial love in Clark County and has raised less than $8,700.
Not only does Biden trail Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and businessman Andrew Yang in local fundraising, he also ranks behind Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who ended his presidential campaign in August.
Tight local vote
Four years ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton carried Clark County with 316 more votes than Trump.
Oberg expects a repeat performance this year.
“We have a good field of people who are running,” he said. “And ultimately Clark County will get behind the Democratic candidate.”
Not surprisingly, Bowerman predicts a strong economy will propel Trump to victory in Clark County.
“I think he will carry it,” Bowerman said. “And all you (had) to do is go to the shopping centers during the month of December. People have money in their pockets, and they can’t wait to spend it.”