How do you raise $50 million when you've spent the past three years alienating some of the biggest political donors in America?
That's the dilemma faced by New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, who is running for governor in 2006 on the strength of his high-profile investigations of Wall Street and the financial-services industry.
So far, he's doing quite well, thank you. At the last report in mid-January, he had $7.9 million on hand and had raised $3.4 million in the previous six months. But the bulk of his money is coming from traditionally Democratic sources -- unions, trial lawyers and Hollywood -- though there are some investors and hedge fund managers in the mix.
Large donors include film moguls Bob and Harvey Weinstein and their relatives ($100,000 last February), mutual fund manager Mario J. Gabelli ($24,000 in December), and class-action law firm Pomerantz Haudek ($29,000 over three years). A group of class-action plaintiffs' lawyers quickly pulled together $100,000 after Spitzer spoke to their conference in New York in March, said Mark J. Proctor, president of the Florida firm Levin, Papantonio.
"The money is coming from an extremely broad section of the population," said Janice Shorenstein, co-founder of Women for Spitzer, "as far-reaching on the bottom as it is at the top of the economic spectrum. It comes from every part of New York state as well as the rest of the country."
Recent fundraisers have been packed, including a Jan. 10 event at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan that drew 700 people instead of the expected 300. And longtime Spitzer supporter and fundraiser Lloyd Constantine, an antitrust lawyer, said he is regularly approached by colleagues and business associates looking for a way to give money to the attorney general.
Unlike Spitzer's first campaigns, which relied heavily on money from his father, who is a real estate developer, and begging and pleading with donors, this one so far "has been fundraising almost without effort," said Constantine, who said he noticed a big upswing in interest after Spitzer's first big Wall Street investigation, which targeted biased investment-banking research. "Some of this is that everybody likes to give to a winner."
So far, most business lobbyists and many of Wall Street's big-name donors are sitting this one out, largely because Spitzer has no announced rival.
Gov. George E. Pataki, who has not said whether he will run again, had $2.35 million cash on hand in mid-January and had raised just $566,806 in the previous six months. A March 23 Zogby International poll had Spitzer leading Pataki 49 percent to 31 percent in a head-to-head race.