Democracy Tree: As Romney cashes out, contenders vie for war chest

by Amy Kerr Hardin

So, Romney’s dog gets a break from the campaign trail in 2016, but afR-Moneyter the aborted presidential bid, there’s still much to be settled. It’s all about the money.
The question now is who gets the keys to the Romney money machineDSCN0444-150x150 and its chief operator, Spencer J. Zwick, now that the GOP hopeful has concluded that three times are not so much the charm. Speculation abounds, as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie come a courtin’ for the cash.
Romney himself may not have much say on where all that establishment money flows, and his endorsement could carry little weight. However, his pre-candidacy concession speech of sorts, hinted he wants to see fresh blood — a clear dis on Jeb Bush.
Zwick, was the genius behind Romney’s record-breaking 2012 fund-raising campaign. Between the candidate committee, the RNC, Restore Our Future super PAC, along with various other sources — Team Romney hauled-in just under $1 billion. The bulk of the fund-raising and spending occurred in the five-month period between June and November, after Romney secured the nomination.
The big GOP presidential game players of 2012 were casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, whose combined contributions placed a $30 million wager on Romney. Bob Perry, a Houston homebuilder who financed the 2004 Swift Boat campaign, ponied up $10 million. The CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison, kicked-in $3 million, and no GOP presidential bid would be complete without a little Koch cash — brother William gave $2.8 million through his oil and gas company, Oxbow Carbon LLC.
Last week, the Brothers Koch announced plans to lavish 2016 GOP contenders at all levels with just under $1 billion through their super PAC, Americans for Prosperity — a fact Democratic strategists plan to exploit, painting the billionaire brothers as evil incarnate. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said this of the announcement:
“I think the Koch brothers dumping a billion dollars on the elections is definitely something the American people are interested in learning about.”
The Koch money will be joined by increased spending across the board as billionaires exercise their expanded First Amendment freedom to spend unlimited sums in the wake of the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling lifting the cap on aggregate dollars spent by an individual during an election cycle.
The five-month fundraising window has been blown wide open. It starts now folks.
Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker all schmoozed Romney in Tweets of 140 characters or less in the wake of his announcement.
A recent Des Moines Register-Bloomberg poll shows Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, leading the pack of 15 potential contenders. The poll was conducted prior to Romney’s dropping out, so there’s clearly an x-factor to consider with his 13 points now up for grabs. Walker, reviled by midwestern Democrats even more than neighboring Michigan governor Rick Snyder, and considered more divisive by every measure, has survived two elections and a recall in recent years, in spite of his union-busting record.
His appeal? If there’s one thing the entire spectrum of the Republican Party agrees on, it’s their affinity for gross hubris, and Walker’s got that in spades. Typically the level of arrogance stands in opposition to the relative intelligence of a GOP darling, but Walker embodies the cunning skill of a deadly predator.
Party outlier, Rand Paul, coming in right behind Walker, isn’t trying to charm Romney in the least. A couple of weeks ago, Paul tweeted out some snark in the general Romney/Bush direction.
He’s sure not gettin’ any of that pretty-pretty establishment money.
The big winner? Romney’s dog.

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