Those who say the 2016 run for the White House has not yet begun haven't been paying attention to the 2014 money trail.
Unannounced candidates with presidential aspirations put their money where their friends were in the two key states, Iowa and New Hampshire, during the November midterms, hoping to get a running start over the competition, confident that their help will be remembered come 2016.
Leadership PACs run by various presidential wannabes splashed campaign money in both states, The New York Times reports
, noting, "Creating a network of party leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire helps build organizational strength in states where the ground game is critical."
Three Republican candidates — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — kicked in $133,700 in contributions to candidates in the two key states, with Perry's RicPAC far out in front with a total of $64,500, or $20,500 to Iowa candidates and $44,000 to those in New Hampshire.
Cruz' PAC, the Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund, spent $22,000 on four Iowa candidates, the Polk County Republican Party and Liberty Iowa, and $8,500 more to New Hampshire state runs.
Paul's PAC, Reinventing a New Direction, donated $27,000 to 28 candidates and committees in both states, and five more got another $1,000 apiece in New Hampshire.
Overall, Iowa candidates received $11,700, the Times reports.
The building Democratic battle paid close attention to the two key states as well, with Ready for Hillary, Hillary Clinton's PAC, donating $75,000 to six candidates in Iowa and $15,637 to New Hampshire candidates, for a total of $90,637.
Maryland's outgoing Gov. Martin O'Malley, also with an eye on 2016, spent $78,250 in Iowa and $17,500 in New Hampshire.
Hans Noel, Georgetown University professor and political author and analyst, told the Times, "For prospective presidential candidates, these are the allies you want. Winning the nomination means winning a series of political contests in unfamiliar territory — other states that a candidate may never have had a reason to visit. The locals know the territory."
Even though none of the candidates have yet officially announced their intention to run, their campaigns have been underway for well over the past year. Do a Google search for former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush and up pops an ad for Paul's PAC
, Time notes.
Just hours after Bush formed his Right to Rise PAC, contributions topped $100,000
, Politico notes.
Former Iowa co-chairman David Oman told CNN
that the 2016 race "is well underway. It's almost all under the radar.
"There are a lot of phone calls that are being made among Iowa activists, and certainly into the state — some from the candidates or would-be candidates, and others from people who are helping them," he said.
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