Deep-pocketed political donors to the Republican Party have been watching the fallout from Jan. 6, 2021, and there appears to be dwindling support for a 2024 presidential run for Donald Trump.
One donor who’s backing down-ballot Republicans said, “Donors are very concerned that Trump is the one Republican who can lose in 2024.” Another noted that in the wake of the Jan. 6 hearings, “I don’t think any major donor with business interests would support a Trump presidential run.”
It’s not the sensational hearsay testimony of Cassidy Hutchison that’s the problem. What she says she saw and heard was damning enough for most of these cautious men. It looks like the number of big-money Republican donors who will back Trump is dwindling.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Donors have questioned Trump from the time he announced his candidacy in 2015. As recently as last May, many donors believed the GOP should move on from Trump.
But the recent revelations about Trump — whether they’re true or not — have many mega-donors diving for cover.
“Donors are very concerned that Trump is the one Republican who can lose in 2024,” Eric Levine, an attorney and longtime GOP fundraiser, said after the hearing Tuesday featuring testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. “I think donors were already moving away from Trump,” he noted. Levine is co-hosting a fundraising event for the Trump-endorsed former TV host and current Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in New York in September, according to an invitation reviewed by CNBC.
For Trump, it’s a similar theme to his first run for president. At that time, many corporate business leaders backed other Republican candidates like Jeb Bush early on in the race only later to back Trump when it was obvious he was going to capture the nomination.
The difference this time is that the Trump donors who came off the sidelines in 2016 to support him are the ones abandoning him in 2024.
Ordinarily, this would be a reason for panic from a candidate’s staff. But Trump has a secret weapon: small donors. His super PAC “Save America” had over $100 million on hand going into June. In addition to thousands of smaller donations, Trump is still getting a number of larger donations.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, boasted about the former president’s record on endorsing GOP candidates and their fundraising success.
“President Trump’s endorsement record stands at 146-10, his Save America political committee continues to raise unprecedented amounts of money and the American people remain hungry for his leadership,” Budowich said. “And as another witch hunt is blowing up in the faces of Democrats, President Trump is in a stronger position now than at anytime before.”
Still, the Trump mystique has evaporated, and several other candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, are raising staggering amounts of money for potential runs.
The politics of 2022 are still unsettled, much less the politics of 2024. But while Trump won’t need much help from Republican whales to be competitive in the primaries, raising a billion dollars to compete with Joe Biden or whichever Democrat they put against him to run won’t be easy without the mega-donors.