Bach­mann at­tracts small donors, but she lacks big-dol­lar play­ers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Rep. Michele Bach­mann’s lat­est cam­paign fi­nance re­port shows she has a strong net­work of small-dol­lar donors back­ing her pres­i­den­tial bid but, for now, she lacks the sup­port of the big-money bundlers.

The re­port, which cov­ers April to June, showed that Mrs. Bach­mann col­lected more than $4.2 mil­lion and had $3.6 mil­lion in the bank, putting her neck-and-neck with Texas Rep. Ron Paul for sec­ond place in the early money chase and in the rearview mir­ror of for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, who raised $18 mil­lion and has $12.7 mil­lion in the bank.

With six months un­til the cau­cuses and pri­maries next year, the fi­nan­cial re­ports pro­vide a glimpse into can­di­dates’ abil­i­ties to draw the kind of sup­por t needed to win the party’s nom­i­na­tion and put up a strong fight in the gen­eral elec­tion against Pres­i­dent Obama, who raised $86 mil­lion in the three months that ended June 30.

Mrs. Bach­mann raised $2.2 mil­lion in the a two-week span this month and trans­ferred $2 mil­lion from her con­gres­sional cam­paign com­mit­tee ac­count. Her 88,000 do­na­tions av­er­aged $48 a pop.

The three-term con­gress­woman, though, has strug­gled to gain the back­ing of the all im­por­tant high-dol­lar bundlers who can tap fi­nan­cial net­works for hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars for a cam­paign.

The chal­lenge in front of Mrs. Bach­mann is clear: Can the tea party fa­vorite trans­late the grass-roots sup­port that helped her raise al­most $14 mil­lion for her re-elec­tion last year into the kind of main­stream cred­i­bil­ity nec­es­sary to at­tract the ma­jor fundrais­ers who are cru­cial to a se­ri­ous White House run.

“Pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns are ob­vi­ously phe­nom­e­nally ex­pen­sive, and you have to raise the money in rel­a­tively small chunks,” said Dirk Van Don­gen, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Whole­saler-Distrib­u­tors and a bundler who re­mains un­com­mit­ted in the race. “Even when you are talk­ing about max­i­mum con­tri­bu­tions, $2,500 seems like a lot of money un­til you think of the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars that these can­di­dates need to raise, and bundlers are ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to that process for any se­ri­ous can­di­date.”

For­mer am­bas­sador Mel Sem­bler, a Rom­ney sup­porter, said that in or­der to sur­vive the gru­el­ing pres­i­den­tial fight, can­di­dates must have both small donors and bundlers.

“You need both sides of the equa­tion,” Mr. Sem­bler said. “I think Michele at this point is do­ing the small-donor side, but she has to get out and get more of the na­tional fundrais­ers and peo­ple across the United States, like my­self, who have been at this for so many years, who are ded­i­cated to this. She is learn­ing how to do this and I’m sure she will get bet­ter and bet­ter.”

He added, “Do I think she’s go­ing to be our nom­i­nee? No, but I like her out there talk­ing.”

The Bach­mann camp on July 15 an­nounced it is beef­ing up ef­forts to court ma­jor donors by form­ing a fi­nance team of vet­eran fundrais­ers, in­clud­ing Guy Short, who helped her take in $13.5 mil­lion for her re-elec­tion to Congress last year; Mary Heit­man, for­mer fi­nance di­rec­tor for the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee; and Jody Thomas, one­time po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor and fundraiser for for­mer Rep. J.C. Watts of Ok­la­homa.

GOP in­sid­ers, though, say the odds are against Mrs. Bach­mann.

“She won’t be able to raise money from big donors be­cause they don’t re­ally like her,” said John Fee­hery, a Repub­li­can con­sul­tant.

Though Mrs. Bach­mann ap­pears poised to win the Iowa cau­cuses, there’s doubt about whether a win there trans­lates into suc­cess in New Hamp­shire’s first-in-the-nation pri­mary or else­where.

One big money bundler put it bluntly: “Iowa is the­ater, pure unadul­ter­ated the­ater.

“The money bundlers are not go­ing to pay at­ten­tion to Iowa be­cause we all know Iowa is ir­rel­e­vant,” he added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.