Dan Roberti may not be a household name in the 5th Congressional District.
But in New York City, Washington, D.C., California, and along the southern tier of Fairfield County, he apparently has good friends with deep pockets.
Roberti, 30, is a political neophyte from Kent running for office for the first time.
He has far fewer individual donors than his competitors in the race for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Congressional District, House Speaker Chris Donovan, of Meriden, and former state representative Elizabeth Esty, of Cheshire. An Aug. 14 primary will decide the party's nominee.
But he has nearly as much money.
According to reports compiled by the Federal Elections Commission from January 2011 to April 24, 2012, Roberti has raised $1,119,821.
That's more than the $1,001,732 the veteran Donovan has raised, but less than Esty, who has amassed $1,261,813.
The Roberti campaign said more than 800 people have donated money. The FEC filing from lists 768 individual contributions.
Of those, about 65 come from within the 5th District. In comparison, about 185 come from New York City. Another 90 come from southern Fairfield County.
Many contributors are from California and from Washington, D.C. Two families -- the Shermans and the Tiffenbergs, both with ties to Midtown Operating Corp., one of New York City's largest Yellow Cab companies -- have given the campaign $50,000.
Stuart Rothenberg, a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter and commentator, said he has met Dan Roberti. "He's a very nice young man."
Whether the money Roberti has raised translates into something more, Rothenberg said, is a very different question.
"Access to money is good. It's very valuable," Rothenberg said, but "a life of experiences" probably matters more to voters.
Gary Rose, professor of political science at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, pointed to a trend in Connecticut -- exemplified by Greenwich businesswoman Linda McMahon -- of well-funded, non-establishment candidates gaining traction with voters.
"I'm not sure voters mind," Rose said of the uptick in well-to-do political candidates. "It's becoming pretty common."
Roberti said he has an advantage in fundraising. His father, Vincent Roberti, is chairman of Roberti Associates and one of the nation's top fundraisers for the Democratic Party, including for former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Roberti Associates website says in 2010 the elder Roberti advised 50 Senate and House campaigns.
"He's been unbelievably helpful," Roberti said Monday after a Danbury news conference where he was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York. "He's been a Democratic fundraiser for the past decade."
"His father is a very big deal," said Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.
But Dan Roberti said his job as a consultant with DKC, a public relations, marketing and government affairs company in New York City, plus the eight months he worked with political consultant James Carville, have given him an extensive phone list of his own.
Working on the Ken Burns film on Prohibition sent him to most of the major cities in the United States, Dan Roberti said, and helped increase his network of contacts.
"I've been working the phones for the past year and a half," he said.
Esty has far more contributors. Campaign spokesman Jeb Fain put the figure at more 3,600.
She has benefitted from her endorsement by Emily's List, the national political organization that promotes women candidates in national political races.
Emily's List reportedly has raised more than $85,000 on Esty's behalf.
Fain said Esty's supporters favor her "common sense" solutions to job creation and her "record of fighting for women's rights."
Donovan's campaign has become mired in controversy over donations involved with an effort to kill legislation in the General Assembly that would have taxed "roll your own" cigarette stores.
The Donovan campaign said Monday that through mid-May, Donovan had 8,500 individual donors contribute to his campaign.
More than 80 percent of those donors are from Connecticut, the campaign said, and the average donation was about $60.
"The hard-working families of Connecticut's 5th Congressional District know that Chris Donovan has been standing with them for his entire career, and they are standing with him in this race," Gabe Rosenberg, Donovan's campaign director, said in an email.
"Chris is the only candidate in the race with a history of successfully fighting for working families -- it's what he has done in Connecticut and what he will continue to do in Congress," Rosenberg said.
Stuart Rothenberg said Roberti's challenge now is to make his prowess as a fundraiser -- and his father's -- translate into something that resonates with voters.
"He's got to demonstrate his advantage is more than who his father knows," Rothenberg said.