With the November election on everyone’s minds, both 2012 presidential hopefuls have zeroed in on the Hamptons as a venue to fill their campaign coffers.
Mitt Romney passed through the East End last Friday as part of a two-day Northeast fundraising tour. Romney attended two events—the first was at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton and the second was held at the home of hedge fund guru John A. Griffin and his wife, Amy.
Griffin is the founder of Blue Ridge Capital, an investment advisor based in New York. The New York Times has reported that, although Griffin has been a huge Romney supporter leading up to this election, four years ago he backed President Obama and was one of the Democrat’s earliest contributors. In March 2007, about a month after President Obama announced his 2008 campaign, Griffin donated $2,300 to the then-Democratic hopeful. He also contributed $2,300 to Romney’s campaign in June 2007, but once Romney revoked his candidacy, Griffin gave the maximum $30,800 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Griffin is one of many Wall Street businessmen who supported Obama in 2008 but have reportedly shifted party alliances for the 2012 election.
Last weekend marked Romney’s second round of summer 2012 fundraising efforts in the Hamptons. The Republican candidate held three events in the area on July 8. The most high-profile stop on the July tour was at the home of David H. Koch, the executive vice president of Koch Industries, which drew protestors who emphasized that they were a nonpartisan effort with the goal of ending egregious spending on campaigns. Koch’s fundraiser cost donors $50,000 each or $75,000 per couple.
The Obama-Biden fundraising trail also passes through the Hamptons this summer, and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend two fundraisers in Bridgehampton on Friday, Aug. 24. One event will be at the home of Matthew Mallow and his wife Ellen Chesler. Mallow is a former partner of Skadden Arps, a law firm based in New York, which was the second-highest grossing law firm in the world in 2010.
The event is hosted by actor Nathan Lane, and James Taylor is expected to play. Notable Democratic politicians slated to attend are Representative Tim Bishop, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. Tickets start at $500 for “young professionals” and $1,000 for “guests.”
Vice President Biden’s other Hamptons stop will be hosted by Chad Leat, a Citibank executive.
The Times has reported that many area Democrats are disappointed that President Obama isn’t giving face time to the Hamptons, but Southampton Town Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr disputes that assertion.
“Vice President Biden is coming because he’s an important part of the ticket,” says Herr. “This part of the country and New York State is safely democratic,” he continued, indicating that politicking by the President would be more effective in other parts of the country.
The Times also reports that “The message Team Obama has sent to supporters there [in the Hamptons] is that it does not believe that a setting synonymous with the term 1% befits a campaign aimed at wooing the middle class.”
The Vice President has visited the Hamptons on numerous occasions. While here, he has attended mass at Basililica Church of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
As the race heats up, will the Hamptons become a key battleground?