If some in the GOP establishment thought they would be able to throw enough early big money behind Jeb Bush to effect a Hillary-like coronation on the Republican side, the amount of serious money now spread across several candidates suggests it isn’t working. In fact, the stage is now set for a long, expensive wide-open primary funded by a multitude of big donors.
According to a Washington Post report, while Jeb Bush “has raised tens of millions of dollars for his allied super PAC … that hasn’t been enough to stop his rivals from amassing their own stockpiles.”
The old line GOP establishment may be in for a rude awakening in the era of Super PACs and with more and more deep-pocketed donors looking to play in presidential politics.
Much of the establishment money is flowing to Bush, who senior Republicans believe will collect $100 million for his super PAC by the end of May.
But his competitors have their own wealthy benefactors. Rubio is being backed by Florida billionaire Norman Braman, who has committed $10 million to his aligned super PAC. Cruz is getting support from the family of hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer.
Sen. Marco Rubio is said to have raised “about $20 million in commitments in less than two weeks,” while Sen. Ted Cruz reportedly netted $31 million in just one week. And Gov. Scott Walker’s camp is claiming similar numbers.
Never have so many candidates entered a White House contest boosted by such huge sums. The financial arms race could fuel a protracted primary season similar to the one in 2012 — exactly what party leaders were hoping to avoid.
“There could be as many as a dozen candidates that have a threshold amount of money in their campaigns and super PACs to compete vigorously in the early states,” said Phil Cox, a Republican strategist who runs America Leads, a super PAC supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that has the backing of at least two billionaires.
The influx of new money may even help to redefine the traditional strategy when it comes to winning the GOP nomination. Stay tuned:
Indeed, contenders such as Cruz and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee are crafting long-game strategies, staking their hopes on a wave of Southern state primaries that will not take place until March. Although next year’s compressed primary schedule could intensify the momentum for a front-runner, it could also help a range of contenders pick up delegates if a single leader does not quickly emerge.