Presidential Hopefuls Squeeze Floridians For Cash

03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Sunshine State continues to be a cash cow both for Democrats and Republicans who are still milking Floridians for bucks to pay for their continuing presidential campaigns.

The early Florida presidential primary may be history and the status of Democratic delegates from the state still in question, but the huge pockets of Floridians remain a target for the four remaining contenders.

The Internet appears to be the method-of-choice in reaching for small donations from individuals, but it is big corporations, large law firms, and wealthy Floridians that are increasingly cited for delivering thousands of dollars to Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney.

Weekend newspapers in Florida prominently displayed stories on just how important the money trail is.

"Donors big and small fill candidate coffers" headlined a page one story in the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun-Sentinel, while the influential Miami Herald ran several stories in the past week showing both local and national fund-raising was "in the millions."

Despite national stories to the contrary, reports in Florida indicate the Republicans got the most cash contributions -- but narrowly - more than $13 million for the GOP in the Sunshine State, compared to about $12 million for the Democrats.

State Sen. Steve Geller blamed the difference on the Democratic National Committee's action in stripping Florida of its convention delegates and because of the candidates pledge not to campaign in Florida until after the Jan. 29 primary. Now that the primary is history, those weak Democratic numbers are expected to flourish as Clinton and Obama duke it out for the nomination.

On the Republican side, new fundraising is also erupting, but at this point no one wants to venture whether McCain or Romney will benefit most. Prior to the Florida primary, Republican Rudy Giuliani - who had put his entire candidacy on the line in Florida and now has endorsed McCain - got the most in contributions - reportedly raising $1.5 million dollars. Now that Giuliani came out with a third place showing and exited the race, his donors are up for grabs.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, top vote getter McCain raised the least - $541,000 while Romney received nearly $1 million. Gov. Mike Huckabee showed a quarterly total of $676,00 while Cong. Ron Paul - fifth in the Florida GOP primary vote - reported $633,0000.

On the Democratic side, fourth quarter reports from Florida showed Clinton with statewide donations of $1.3 million compared to Obama's take in the Sunshine State - $ 692,000. The Clinton total comes mainly from three South Florida counties -population centers from Miami to West Palm Beach.

Broward Commissioner Staci Ritter - an Obama supporter - was quoted in the Herald as saying it was more difficult to raise funds when the candidate is not campaigning one-on-one with donors, as happened in Florida.

Nevertheless, the emails asking for funds continue at a record rate. The Florida victors - Clinton and McCain are expected to benefit from their showings in the state as they head toward the Feb. 5 vote and beyond.

Ira Leesfield, co-chair of the Clinton Florida Campaign Committee indicated the New York Senator would receive even more contributions from Florida, basking in the news that two Miami Beach events last week netted nearly $750,00 for use in media advertising and organization.

The newspapers reporting where "the money is coming from" analyzed zip codes to show which parts of South Florida gave the most, and to whom.