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Which Politicians Benefit Most When Floridians Give Outside the State?

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When federal election campaign contributors from Florida give money out of state, three U.S. senators catch their eye.

Most Florida donors contribute to Florida candidates. But of the money Floridians donated to candidates for Congress, 34 percent went outside the state.

Among the out-of-state candidates who benefitted from Florida donors, three senators stood out: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Chuck Schumer of New York.

Why those three?

Johnson and Portman are Republicans who are in tight re-election campaigns, according to the Washington Post.

“These campaigns are named by the party as target races,” said Viveca Novak, communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks campaign money. “I think they’d be sending emails to a broader list.”

Portman drew $613,150 from Florida contributors during the 2015-2016 campaign cycle, totaled through the end of March. Johnson received $305,770 from Floridians, according to an analysis of Federal Elections Commission data.

Schumer, besides being one of the more prominent Democrats in the U.S. Senate, is also Jewish. He drew $296,750 from Florida, mostly from areas known to have relatively strong Jewish populations.

Roger Austin, who teaches campaign management at the University of Florida, said politicians from other states target Florida.

“Florida being a very large and relatively wealthy state, if I was a politician from anywhere in the country I would want to have a fundraiser in Florida,” Austin said.

Sometimes the connection is personal. For example, one of the $1,000 contributors to Portman’s Ohio campaign was Richard Romeo, a retiree who lives in Key Largo.

“I know him as a friend – I know Rob personally,” said Romeo.

Another of Portman’s contributors was Wayne Boich of Miami Beach, who gave $5,400. Boich is chairman of a coal mining and marketing company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

Overall, half of all the campaign money Portman has raised has come from outside his home state of Ohio, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The other Republican senator who ranked high among Florida voters, Johnson, is facing a close rematch with the longtime Democratic senator he unseated six years ago, Russ Feingold. The Wisconsin race may be attractive to Florida retirees from the Midwest.

“A lot of these donors could be grandparents of constituents in these states,” Austin said.

Schumer, the out-of-state Democrat who benefitted the most from Florida, was the leading choice for people from Miami and Boca Raton.

One of those Boca Raton contributors was Wesley Finch, who donated $1,000 to Schumer.

“A close friend held a fundraiser – that’s the only reason I really donated,” Finch said.

About Antara Sinha

Antara is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by email at antarasinha@ufl.edu and on Twitter @antarasinha.

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