Rumblings of discontent by big donors over 2016 race

Early last month, I wrote a blog post about how big GOP donors would eventually swallow their reservations about Donald Trump and support him in the general election.

But the way the race has progressed – the bitterness, the divisiveness, the name-calling and insults – the attitude of Republican mega-moneymen may be changing.  Some are apparently so dispirited at recent polls showing both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz being thrashed by a Democrat in the general election that they plan to sit out the presidential race and concentrate instead on keeping the House in Republican hands.

Politico:

On Friday morning, during a meeting of the group’s board, Arthur Finkelstein, an iconic Republican strategist who has advised numerous politicians over the past four decades, presented polling data that showed Donald Trump sitting at historically low approval numbers among American Jews, according to three attendees who described the off-the-record meeting. Ted Cruz, despite an aggressive recent push to court Jews, fared little better.

Following the nearly 30-minute presentation, the group turned to a discussion about what’s next in the race. While some in the room spoke in favor of Cruz, others expressed reservations about his prospects in the general election. Trump, meanwhile, had little support: Not one person volunteered to raise money for him if he were the nominee.

Over the course of the weekend, some of the party’s disappointed and most sought-after contributors said they may be done with the 2016 race. Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate executive and former U.S. ambassador, said that after helping to bankroll Jeb Bush’s campaign, he had turned his attention to defeating a local medical-marijuana initiative.

“That’s my focus for the rest of this year,” he said.

Easily the biggest holdout, though, is Adelson. Despite spending more than $100 million on the 2012 campaign — some of it on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s unsuccessful primary effort that year — the 82-year-old mogul has yet to pick a favorite 2016 candidate. His advisers say that he will not endorse anyone until the Republican nomination is decided, at the earliest.

Adelson, an unpredictable and enigmatic figure who is the 22nd richest person in the world, has offered few hints about how he’ll try to influence the campaign. While the RJC spring meeting is traditionally a celebration of Adelson, with politicians of all stripes venturing to the Venetian to pay homage, this year’s was different.

On Thursday evening, Adelson hosted some of the organization’s top officials at his palatial mansion. While former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed how fractured parties can unite, Adelson listened but said little, according to three people who were present. And on Friday, rather than preside over the deliberations, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, departed for a wedding.

It's true Trump hasn't had to spend much money, given his titanic advantage with free media.  But he has kept his spending in check at the expense of building a national campaign.  Hillary Clinton will raise and spend more than a billion dollars in an effort to win the presidency.  Can Trump – or Cruz – match that figure?

Not without several of those moneymen, who are seriously examining their options for 2016.  It's too early to say whether the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency wouldn't change many of those gentlemen's minds about contributing.  But it should worry the entire Republican party that the guts of its financial infrastructure is questioning whether contributing to the party's nominee is worth it.

Early last month, I wrote a blog post about how big GOP donors would eventually swallow their reservations about Donald Trump and support him in the general election.

But the way the race has progressed – the bitterness, the divisiveness, the name-calling and insults – the attitude of Republican mega-moneymen may be changing.  Some are apparently so dispirited at recent polls showing both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz being thrashed by a Democrat in the general election that they plan to sit out the presidential race and concentrate instead on keeping the House in Republican hands.

Politico:

On Friday morning, during a meeting of the group’s board, Arthur Finkelstein, an iconic Republican strategist who has advised numerous politicians over the past four decades, presented polling data that showed Donald Trump sitting at historically low approval numbers among American Jews, according to three attendees who described the off-the-record meeting. Ted Cruz, despite an aggressive recent push to court Jews, fared little better.

Following the nearly 30-minute presentation, the group turned to a discussion about what’s next in the race. While some in the room spoke in favor of Cruz, others expressed reservations about his prospects in the general election. Trump, meanwhile, had little support: Not one person volunteered to raise money for him if he were the nominee.

Over the course of the weekend, some of the party’s disappointed and most sought-after contributors said they may be done with the 2016 race. Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate executive and former U.S. ambassador, said that after helping to bankroll Jeb Bush’s campaign, he had turned his attention to defeating a local medical-marijuana initiative.

“That’s my focus for the rest of this year,” he said.

Easily the biggest holdout, though, is Adelson. Despite spending more than $100 million on the 2012 campaign — some of it on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s unsuccessful primary effort that year — the 82-year-old mogul has yet to pick a favorite 2016 candidate. His advisers say that he will not endorse anyone until the Republican nomination is decided, at the earliest.

Adelson, an unpredictable and enigmatic figure who is the 22nd richest person in the world, has offered few hints about how he’ll try to influence the campaign. While the RJC spring meeting is traditionally a celebration of Adelson, with politicians of all stripes venturing to the Venetian to pay homage, this year’s was different.

On Thursday evening, Adelson hosted some of the organization’s top officials at his palatial mansion. While former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed how fractured parties can unite, Adelson listened but said little, according to three people who were present. And on Friday, rather than preside over the deliberations, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, departed for a wedding.

It's true Trump hasn't had to spend much money, given his titanic advantage with free media.  But he has kept his spending in check at the expense of building a national campaign.  Hillary Clinton will raise and spend more than a billion dollars in an effort to win the presidency.  Can Trump – or Cruz – match that figure?

Not without several of those moneymen, who are seriously examining their options for 2016.  It's too early to say whether the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency wouldn't change many of those gentlemen's minds about contributing.  But it should worry the entire Republican party that the guts of its financial infrastructure is questioning whether contributing to the party's nominee is worth it.