One top party fundraiser said the Wall Street financiers and corporate executives he counts on for support are “having fits” over the GOP’s brinkmanship strategy, especially related to a potential default if Congress does not agree to raise the debt ceiling later this month.
“The donors I raise money from understand the vital importance of credit markets and are upset that the U.S. credit system is being put at risk,” said the fundraiser, who requested anonymity because of his position in the business world.
Many veteran GOP donors also take a particularly dim view of freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a tea party favorite who helped lead the shutdown strategy.
“It appears that we’ve got a bunch of crazies running around — one from Texas and some from other places,” said Al Hoffman Jr., a former Republican National Committee finance chairman and a top fundraiser in Florida. “I love the idea of defunding Obamacare. However, I don’t think it’s going to happen until we have a majority in the Senate and in the House.”
“There are a lot of major donors who feel that until the Republican party can field people who have a vested opinion of what to do and to do it in a prompt and efficient way, we’re going to withhold giving money,” Hoffman said, adding that the donor freeze could affect “a lot of current far-right Republicans.”
Other major financiers, however, admire leaders such as Cruz. On Tuesday night, he received a warm reception at a private dinner held at the Willard hotel for about 50 top RNC donors who were in Washington for the party’s quarterly meeting.
Ray Washburne, a Dallas investor who serves as national finance chairman, said he was struck by how donors responded to Cruz.
“There’s no secret he’s a lightning rod,” Washburne said. “But let me tell you — they took to him, that someone is standing up for their principles and not wavering.”
Some of the groups that support tea party lawmakers also report strong fundraising in recent weeks as the push to defund Obamacare or shut down the government gained steam.
The Senate Conservatives Fund raised $1.5 million in August from donors giving an average of $45, according to Matt Hoskins, the group’s executive director. The group, which is closely aligned with Cruz and has primarily targeted Republican lawmakers with attack ads, expects to report higher revenue in September, Hoskins said.
He scoffed at criticism from longtime GOP fundraisers, calling them “wealthy donors who like to go to fancy cocktail parties and don’t speak for the grass roots.”