Landing Big Campaign Finance Fish
Casinos regularly ply deep-pocketed gamblers with free drinks, hotel rooms and a variety of other goodies. Score a few of these "whales" -- as these big-time betters are known -- and a casino's reputation and financial well-being receives a major boost.
Presidential politics is no different. Its whales are the wealthy men and women who form the foundation of a candidate's fundraising infrastructure.
For decades, politicians running or considering a run for national office have placed a priority on the recruitment of deep-pocketed donors, the 2000 and 2004 campaigns of President George W. Bush turned this process into an art form. Bush asked affluent individuals not simply to donate to the campaign but also to round up thousands of dollars in contributions from friends and colleagues. A tiered system was created to reward the most effective of this lot; "Pioneers" raised $100,000, "Rangers" $200,000, and "Super Rangers" $300,000.
The cataloguing of these politically active and financially influential givers provided a blueprint for any Republican candidate mulling the wide-open 2008 contest. With the price tag for the early primary and caucus season estimated at $50-$100 million, securing the support of these boffo bundlers of cash is one of the early hurdles that any serious GOPers must clear.
It's not surprising then that the courtship of these cash cows is well underway among the contenders for the Republican nomination. Today's post marks the first attempt in a series to provide a glimpse at which of these key donors have chosen a 2008 candidate. When we learn of new signees, we'll update the list.
It's important to note that the majority of Pioneers and Rangers have yet to choose sides and may not do so until well into 2008 as they weigh who makes the best investment among the candidates.
What is clear in the early going is that Arizona Sen. John McCain and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are spending the most time in the courtship of these big donors and, as a result, have enjoyed the most success in securing commitments. We hear that Virginia Sen. George Allen and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are huddling regularly with the whales but have yet to sign any of them up. Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist has locked up several key fundraisers from the Volunteer State.
Below is a list of the major fundraisers (some were neither Rangers nor Pioneers) who have already chosen a candidate. As I mentioned above this is an evolving list and is not meant to be comprehensive. If you know of names that should be added, feel free to note that in the comments section or send me an email.
Wayne Berman, lobbyist (D.C.) RANGER
Fred Malek, Thayer Capital Partners (D.C.)
Carter Pate, PricewaterhouseCoopers (D.C./Texas) RANGER
Bob Mosbacher, Mosbacher Energy Co. (Texas)
Tom Loeffler, lobbyist (Texas) RANGER
Peter Karmanos, Compuware Corp. (Mich.)
David Fischer, Suburban Collection (Mich.) PIONEER
John Rakolta, Walbridge Aldinger (Mich.) RANGER
Dave Phillips, Phillips Industries (N.C.) RANGER
Tom Tellefsen, Tellefsen Investments (Calif.) PIONEER
Anne Dunsmore, Capital Campaigns (Calif.) RANGER
Hadi Makarechian, Capital Pacific Holdings (Calif.)
Herb Collins, Boston Capital Partners (Mass.) PIONEER
Jim Sims (MA) GEN3Partners (Mass.)
Joe O'Donnell (MA), Boston Culinary Group (Mass.) RANGER
Tom Foley, NTC Corp. (Conn.) PIONEER
Eric Tanenblatt, McKenna Long Aldridge (Ga.) RANGER
Zachariah Zachariah, cardiologist (Fla.) RANGER
Ken Eldred, Living Stones Foundation (Calif.)
Michael Lebovitz, CBL & Associates Partners (Tenn.) RANGER
Jim Haslam, Pilot Oil Co. (Tenn.) RANGER
Chip Saltsman, former Tennnessee state party chairman (Tenn.) RANGER
Ted Welch, Ted Welch Investments (Tenn.) RANGER
Jeff McWaters, Amerigroup Corp. (Va.) PIONEER
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