Indecision for the GOP's Deep-Pocketed Donors

Without a strong 2012 contender, where's all the money to go?

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Wealthy Republican party donors, who have long been the fear of Democrat candidates, have a problem. Who should they back to get rid of President Obama? The more popular candidates seem unsuitable, but candidates with potential have been slow to come to the race. At this point in the race four years ago, the New York Times notes, the top tier of Republican candidates had already raised more than $50 million among them. By the end of the first quarter this year, only one major contender, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, had even opened an exploratory committee to raise money. And thus far only Mitt Romney has managed to put together a decent crop of Republican financiers.

According to the Times, donors holding back has given rise to a sort of chicken-and-egg problem:

Many prospective candidates “want to have more tangible evidence that the support will be there if they start out,” said Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican Party chairman... “Then there are the donors who don’t yet have a candidate — they’re being more cautious to say, ‘You know what, I’m waiting it out to see what the whole field looks like.’

Another problem is that the many favored candidates have pulled out of the race, leaving donors with nowhere to go. David A. Norcross, a former general counsel for the Republican National Committee, had planned to support Haley Barbour, but is now in a "wait-and-see category."

The Blaze reports that many of Iowa's top Republican campaign contributors, "unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field," are heading to New Jersey to convince Gov. Chris Christie to run, despite his being adamant that 2012 is off the table. Iowa energy company executive Bruce Rastetter and six other prominent Iowa GOP donors are now actively pursuing Christie, which is "the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates... it reflects the lengths to which some in Iowa will go to have more options as they choose a Republican."

The problem extends beyond Iowa. As The Blaze notes:

As in Iowa, some influential Republican donors nationally have said the 2012 field taking shape faces a variety of problems. Some candidates are closely associated with social issues such as gay rights that might now connect with independent voters. Others have been tainted by past campaign disappointments or personal foibles. Some simply lack the firepower to beat a skilled incumbent.

“There is a feeling that more candidates of greater renown should be in the contest,” veteran GOP consultant Mary Matalin said.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.