‘Who wants to get involved and waste money?’ Some GOP donors have given up on finding an alternative to Trump

“Trump is ahead by about 50 points,” said one New York-based GOP fundraiser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the state of play. “Who wants to get involved and waste money?”

The hesitancy to give is already having an impact on Republican super PACs, which are not bound by the limitations of regulated political campaigns. Of all such groups focused on the GOP presidential primary, only 66 individual donors contributed $250,000 or more by the end of June — the federal filing deadline by the end of June, according to a POLITICO analysis of committee filings on behalf of the Federal Election Commission. Latest period covered.

This represents a 24 percent decline from this time in 2016, when the party last had a competitive primary. The analysis found that at this point in that cycle, 87 donors had given at least $250,000 to a candidate’s super PAC.

Sidelining big donors, meanwhile, is doing nothing to hurt Trump, who has become alpha by running small-dollar fundraising campaigns.

Super PACs supporting the former president have received relatively few large donations this year. But by the end of June, Trump’s joint fundraising committee reported raising $23.7 million from donors giving less than $200 — more than double the combined grassroots donations of all other GOP candidates.

Despite the former president clearly topping the polls, some big donors are still buying. Ronald Lauder — a billionaire cosmetics heir who met DeSantis and Scott while surveying the field after splitting from Trump — grew interested in Haley after the former South Carolina governor’s strong debate performance last month, according to a person close to him. According to, who was granted permission to remain anonymous. To discuss private conversations freely.

“He really likes Haley. He knows her,” the man said, noting that he has no plans to meet her yet. “It is too early to say who he is supporting but [he thinks] “He is brilliant and very influential on Israel.”

But like much of the Republican establishment, many donors are increasingly resigned to Trump’s dominance in the field they initially hoped to shape. They aren’t so enthusiastic about any of their rivals as to send them cash. They worry that Trump will retaliate if elected. And with DeSantis’ withdrawal and no significant activity in the election by any other candidate, it is unclear who, if anyone, he will support.

“Confusion. Is there a better word?” John Catsimatidis, the billionaire CEO of the Gristades supermarket chain, said this when asked to summarize the mood of the high-level donor class. “Republican donors want a pro-business, no-nonsense person and they want a person who is passionate about sex. Be able to appeal and be able to win 51 percent of the time.”

“A lot of them are worried that President Trump, even though he’s a superstar, won’t get 51 percent, so they’re looking to the next guy,” Catsimatidis said. “It looks like Nikki Haley is high on that totem pole right now, and [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis is in there somewhere, but DeSantis is losing because of sex appeal.”

Catsimatidis has contributed to Trump and has said he will give to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s long-term Democratic bid. Some other major donors and bundlers have committed to other candidates: New York lawyer Eric Levin, for example, is bullish on Scott, while investment firm CEO Hal Lambert is raising money for DeSantis.

But billionaire CEO Ken Griffin, who donated $5 million to DeSantis’ gubernatorial race in Florida, and megadonor Thomas Peterffy, have remained on the sidelines as they expressed frustration with the rest of the field.

“Twelve years ago and eight years ago, at this time of year, there were events every week in New York [during] September,” the New York-based fundraiser said. “And the only person I know that’s going to have an event this whole month is Nikki Haley. This is beyond unusual.”

The reluctance of many wealthy donors to donate is exacerbating the difficulties of low-polling candidates in the primaries — who are desperate to gain traction but with limited resources. Without deep pockets to rely on for advertising, it is also raising the stakes of Republican primary debates, including this week in California.

Bill Strong, an international investment banker and longtime Republican fundraiser, is among those viewing Haley optimistically. He pointed to data from a recent CNN/University of New Hampshire survey that shows there is room for growth. The survey found Trump with 39 percent of the vote among likely GOP primary voters and Haley with 12 percent, nearly even with DeSantis, who was seen as the frontrunner in the contest months ago.

Strong is confident that even a modest reform like Haley’s in New Hampshire could sway potential donors and some of them passed Put money on it. They include billionaire WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who has donated $5 million to a super PAC supporting his campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission, venture capitalist Tim Draper, who gave $1.1 million, and million- The dollar donor is Steven Stull, another venture capitalist. Filing.

But they are lone wolves among Uber donors who, for the most part, are not spending the money yet.

“This is a group that is extremely conservative. Not politically conservative but conservative in actions. “They want to research and know things before they make any changes,” said Stu Loesser, a New York-based consultant who works with wealthy donors. “There’s no real argument yet that anyone can beat Trump.” Is. They are sitting idle in this cycle until someone proves the feasibility.

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