At least 20 people, including Facebook Inc. (FB) co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, have contributed to the campaigns of both Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker and Republican Governor Chris Christie, an analysis of their largest donors shows.
Donors to both also include LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) co-founder Reid Hoffman, Home Depot Inc. co-founder Kenneth Langone and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, the data show. In total, the 20 people have given a combined $258,000 to the two politicians.
Christie, 50, enjoying high approval ratings for his Hurricane Sandy response, is seeking a second term in November and may run for president in 2016. Booker, the 44-year-old mayor of Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, had considered challenging Christie’s re-election bid. He opted instead to run in the race to replace Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. Both are frontrunners by wide margins in recent polls.
“Big-name donors think New Jersey has two influential politicians whose star is rising and who may one day be in the White House,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch. “Campaign donors are purchasing access.”
Zuckerberg joined Christie and Booker on the Oprah Winfrey television show in 2010 to announce he would donate $100 million to Newark’s struggling school system. Zuckerberg held his first political fundraiser, for Christie, in February, and has said he would help Booker as well.
Since Booker announced his Senate run this year, Zuckerberg has donated $10,400 to his campaign. He also gave Christie $3,800 in the primary cycle, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
“Mark has been a strong supporter of both Booker and Christie for years, due in large part to their work on education reform,” Sarah Feinberg, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
While the 20 donors have given $87,400 to Christie so far in the primary and general election campaigns, they donated $170,600 to Booker, according to an analysis of the records by Bloomberg News. Federal law allows Booker to raise money for future election cycles, and he’s so far raised more than $10,000 from more than 150 people to fund four elections through November 2014.
Christie scheduled an Aug. 13 primary and Oct. 16 general election for the Senate seat. Whoever wins this year would face another campaign in 2014, when Lautenberg’s term expires.
Booker has raised $8.6 million through July 24, according to submissions made with the Senate public records office. Christie has reported $6.9 million in funds raised during the primary and another $2.2 million raised for the general election, according to reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie’s campaign, declined to comment on why the two share common donors.
“The governor has developed a broad bipartisan and national base of support that has supported the governor and his re-election financially,” Roberts said in an interview. “We see that as due to his strong leadership and his record of bipartisan leadership.”
Christie, the first Republican elected New Jersey governor since 1997, has forged alliances across the state with Democratic leaders -- including Booker on public education changes, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo for his pension overhaul and southern New Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross for plans to reshape the state university system. Forty-four elected Democrats, including DiVincenzo, have endorsed Christie’s re-election bid.
In the two debates among the Democrats seeking Lautenberg’s seat, Booker’s opponents have criticized his ties to Christie and the reports that he has a million-dollar ownership stake in Internet startup Waywire LLC. Booker said his work with Christie was proof of his willingness to forge ties with Republicans to advance issues he cares about.
Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for Booker, said he would comment later today.
LinkedIn’s Hoffman gave $5,200 to Booker and $3,800 to Christie, filings show. Saida Sapieva, a spokeswoman for Hoffman, didn’t immediately return a telephone call or e-mail seeking comment.
Andreessen, co-founder of the Menlo Park, California-based venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail or to a voice message left for his personal assistant, Arsho Avetian.
Mark Gerson of Summit, New Jersey, co-founder of Gerson Lerhman Group Inc., a New York City investment-research firm, didn’t respond to a message left at his office. He gave $10,400 to Booker and $3,800 to Christie.
Another donor was Joseph Cayre, whose Midtown Equities is a co-holder of a 99-year lease on the World Trade Center site. That acquisition, six weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin towers, was the biggest acquisition in New York City history, at $3.2 billion, according to Midtown’s website. Cayre, who gave $5,000 to Booker and $7,600 to Christie, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left at his office.
Cynthia Lufkin of Washington Depot, Connecticut, the co-chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, gave $10,400 to Booker and $3,800 to Christie. Lufkin died of complications related to lung and breast cancer on July 3. She was the wife of Dan Lufkin, co-founder of the Wall Street firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
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