With a $100,000 boost from the head of a prominent Cape Ann development and construction company, area Republicans are overwhelmingly supporting Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate of choice.
The former Massachusetts governor raised more than $400,000 from 13 communities on the North Shore in 2011, including a $100,000 donation from Manchester resident Steven Dodge to a pro-Romney super PAC, according to campaign finance records filed last week.
The donation by Dodge, CEO of the Windover Corporation, overwhelmed most other campaign donations by area residents in 2011.
Donations to candidates' campaigns are capped at $2,500, but there are no limits on contributions to so-called super PACs.
Ron Paul finished second in the area among Republican candidates with $14,883, while Newt Gingrich was a distant third with $1,740.
Rick Santorum, the other candidate remaining in the GOP primary field, did not receive a single donation in this area, according to reports filed by the candidates' campaigns with the Federal Election Commission.
Dodge donated $100,000 in May to Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney PAC. He also contributed $30,800 to the Republican National Committee, and $2,500 each to the Romney for President and Scott Brown for U.S. Senate campaigns.
Dodge could not be reached for comment.
Among the notable names who contributed to Romney's campaign are former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey of Beverly; former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker of Swampscott; Romney campaign staffers Darrell and Bradley Crate; and another Manchester resident — Neale Attenborough, the CEO of Beverly-based Orchard Brands, the parent company of Appleseed's.
President Obama's campaign raised $3.9 million in Massachusetts in 2011, about the same as all the Republican presidential candidates combined. But on the North Shore, Obama raised only $97,785, one-third of Romney's haul.
Arthur Powell, a Democratic activist from Beverly, attributed Romney's strong showing on the North Shore to his ties to wealthy residents from his time as Massachusetts governor. Obama's supporters are likely to be able to afford only smaller donations, he said.
"These are regular, run-of-the-mill people as opposed to people who have a personal connection (to Romney)," Powell said.
Obama, however, like Romney, also received a boost from a prominent Manchester resident.
Former Bank of America Chairman Charles Gifford of Manchester donated $55,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, while his wife, Anne, contributed $32,500.
Bennett expressed surprise at Romney's fundraising edge over Obama in the area, saying it might be due to the lack of a Democratic presidential primary race.
"The last time, it was all Obama and Hillary, and that was the big buzz by my friends on the other side of the aisle," Bennett said. "They don't have that buzz this year."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.