SOMERSET HILLS, NJ - The Somerset Hills have had an impact on the 2016 presidential nominating races all out of proportion to its size. In both the Democrat Party and the Repubican Party local political figures have played a role both politically and financially as the parties head toward their nominating conventions this summer.
On the Democratic side, Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Wilson has been a strong supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Wilson, a Bedminster resident, campaigned with Secretary Clinton in New Hampshire in the run up to the all-important New Hampshire primary. Indeed, she was on the stage with Secretary Clinton, Senator Cory Booker and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright when Secretary Albright rallied the women's vote for Secretary Clinton. That moment went viral.
Somerset Hills donors have given generously to Secretary Clinton's campaign, but not to her rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Residents of the Somerset Hills have to date donated $28,499 to Clinton for President, while donating only $140 to Senator Sanders.
The Somerset Hills has been at the very heart of the donnybrook taking place on the Republican side of the aisle. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is a frequent visitor to the area, spending time at the country club on Lamington Road that bears his name. His number one cheerleader, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is also a frequent visitor to the Somerset Hills. Both Governor Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie frequent businesses and eateries in the area. In fact, Governor Christie is known to be a good customer of a Bernardsville ice cream establishment.
Not every Somerset Hills political figure is in Mr. Trump's corner. Former Governor Christie Whitman is a Somerset Hills native. Her family have been in the area for generations. Governor Whitman famously took Governor Christie to task for his endorsement of Mr. Trump, and went so far as to say that if her choice in November is between Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton, that her choice would be Clinton.
The Somerset Hills has played its traditional role as a cash cow for Republican campaigns. Area residents donated heavily to Christie for President and two Super PACs supporting Christie. The total amount donated to those three committees by Somerset Hills residents is $271,105, according to Open Secrets.com and FEC records.
The area wasn't exactly stingy to the other GOP contenders, donating as follows:
Jeb Bush for President and his Right to Rise PAC: $79,300
Senator Ted Cruz: $13,600
Senator Marco Rubio: $5,700
Dr. Ben Carson: $1,205
It remains to be seen whether Somerset Hills Republicans will heed Governor Christie's call to support Donald Trump, or whether they will join Peg Schaffer and support Hillary Clinton. The next primaries take place in the Deep South on Saturday.