Worcester County: 2nd in Republican Donations
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Worcester County is the 2nd most-Republican donating county in the state, according to recent data from OpenSecrets.org. The organization also reports that with 54% of donation money going to Republicans, Worcester County residents are favoring conservative candidates in 2012.
Change from 2008
In the last presidential cycle, 58% of donations from Worcester County went to Democratic candidates, with only 45% going to Republicans. Those numbers held steady through 2008, but the area has quickly swung in the opposite direction.
“I do feel the area has turned more conservative, people have become more fiscally conservative. They’re starting to wake up,” said Chairman of the Worcester Republican Committee, Jim Knowlton.
Worcester County trails only Nantucket in Republican donations, where 59% of residents donate to conservative candidates. Overall, the Massachusetts residents are donating 55.9% to Democrats and 33.7% to Republicans.
“It’s still a challenge. You’ve got big money, thousands of dollars, being thrown around on the other side. That’s what we’re up against. We’re trying to tell people, if this is what you believe in, get active,” said Knowlton.
Area residents seeing red
Local Republican leaders said frustration with high regional unemployment is the main root of the change in political sentiment. Worcester’s unemployment rate is currently 7.7%, and has consistently been higher than the state rate.
“A lot of people in our area are upset with what’s going on. There are very few jobs here, and the people who get involved in politics are the people who want a change,” said Bill McCarthy, President of the Worcester County Republican Club.
Mindy Mackenzie-Hebert, Chairperson of the Shrewsbury Republican Town Committee and candidate for the Republican State Committee, said that Massachusetts’ liberal reputation may not be accurate for Worcester County.
“While the state may be leaning towards enrolled Dems, there are a lot of unenrolled people who lean more conservatively, and we’re trying to get them out. Numbers don’t always reflect that. Here in Central Massachusetts we have a lot of self-employed people who value small government,” she told GoLocalWorcester.
Currently, 1/3 of the State Representatives and State Senators from the county are Republicans. The highest single donation to Mitt Romney from the region has come from Gregory Conigliaro, who donated $2,500. Local businessman Francis Carroll donated $5,000 to President Obama’s campaign, matching the county’s other top Obama donors, Mary Carroll, Meredith Dewitt, and Defred Folts, III.
“We’ve got a big population of working-class people, and a lot of students,” said Worcester Democratic Committee Chairperson Carole Deneault.
“I’ve never been worried about the Democratic party in Massachusetts,” she said.