News & Politics

Will GOP Donors Back Trump if He's the Nominee?

In this photo taken Jan. 26, 2012, Fred Malek, founder and board member of the American Action Network, speaks at the Hispanic Leadership Network's conference in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Republican donors will eventually end up supporting Donald Trump if he is the nominee despite their misgivings, says the finance chair of the Republican Governors Association.

Fred Malek says the stakes are too high for big GOP contributors to stay on the sidelines.

The Hill:

“They might prefer somebody other than Trump but if he gets the nomination they will fall in line.”

Malek has been a key player in the multimillion-dollar fundraising machine that has helped install Republican governors in statehouses across the country.

Among the donors he talks to, Malek said many are saying they will support Trump if he wins the nomination, despite their misgivings, because the stakes of this election are so high.

He said those voices view as unacceptable the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton driving America further leftward and potentially installing as many as four Supreme Court nominees. He also predicted that possibility will focus many donors’ minds and dissolve much of the remaining resistance to Trump.

Malek says he, too, would ultimately support Trump if the billionaire wins the nomination.

“We have seen enough of the extreme leftward drift of the country and the over-regulation of the economy,” he said. “At the end of the day we want to win and have a Republican in the White House.”

Malek has previously said that he preferred picking a governor or more mainstream GOP figure like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as the party’s nominee.

Rubio has fallen off the pack, however, and faces a must-win situation in Florida to keep any hopes of the nomination alive.

While most of the establishment politicians and donors will fall in line to support the nominee, there are apparently going to be some bitter enders who refuse:

The begrudging acceptance of Trump is far from universal among GOP elites.

Billionaire mega-donors including Wall Street hedge fund manager Paul Singer and the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team, have been shoveling cash into outside groups in a last-minute rush to take down Trump.

Prominent Republican operatives, such as former Mitt Romney advisers Katie Packer and Stuart Stevens, say they would back Trump under no circumstances.

Conservative intellectual leaders such as The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have even floated the possibility of backing a true conservative on a third party ticket if Trump wins the nomination.

Other GOP elites are holding out hope that a divide-and-conquer delegate strategy will work by preventing Trump from winning 1,237 delegates. They hope a nominee will be picked at a contested convention.

Rubio’s campaign took the extraordinary step on Friday of recommending that Rubio supporters in Ohio back Kasich, since he has a better chance of defeating Trump in Ohio’s primary.

Still, conversations with donors suggest resistance to Trump is weakening as he increasingly looks like the nominee.

It should all be over except the shouting on Tuesday as Trump is expected to sweep winner-take-all primaries in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri (although some polls show Kasich narrowly ahead in Ohio) and dominate in North Carolina. At that point, he will be well beyond the halfway point to reaching the 1237 delegates necessary to win the nomination on the first ballot.

Rich people may not know a lot about politics, but they are eminently practical people — especially when it comes to spending their money. They will support Trump because no matter how badly he presents himself, he is a better alternative than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. It is that pragmatism that will make Trump competitive, money wise, in the November election.

A version of this piece also appeared at The American Thinker