Ted Cruz, the fireball U.S. Senator from Texas turned 2016 presidential candidate, is amazing political spectators and striking fear in others after his campaign war chest collected more than $31 million in a week.
The super PACs in charge of the effort released news of the fundraising results. News analysts are calling the amount raised so far “eye popping.” Others commented at the surprise of such significant funding given the candidate’s opposition to the Republican establishment, which relies heavily on large donations and expensive campaigns.
Insiders said one of Cruz’s biggest campaign donors is billionaire Robert Mercer, a resident of Long Island who founded the computer company IBM and leads the New York hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Mercer reportedly is the main contributor to the super PAC. Cruz camp officials told reporters there are actually four super PACs united to elect Cruz to the presidency under the “Keep the Promise” campaign. Each organization will have different roles, but the super PAC structure will allow mega-donor families to exert more control over the four organizations, according to political analysts.
The involvement, both financial and in volunteer work, of rich donors changed the political campaign landscape, analysts said. The U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 2010 allows for unlimited monies as long as super PACs, political parties and candidates obey the legal rules and stay away from the fundraising organizations. While the names of Cruz’s donors are not public, that will not last past the summer. Campaign fundraising disclosure paperwork is due to the Federal Election Commission in July and names will be made public then.
Michael Malbin, executive director of the Washington-based research group Campaign Finance Institute, said a presidential candidate should raise at least $75 million to finance a successful campaign. Key expenses are building a network of grassroots and volunteer organizations in states holding primaries and all forms of advertising.
Political analysts said amassing millions in campaign money not only gives Texas senator press coverage, but credibility. The collection of $31 million in a week by the Cruz campaign shows widespread support, which makes him a more formidable candidate.
Cruz did not talk about his campaign’s early success when he spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting on Friday. Instead, he reminded the group of his public and controversial stands in Congress against the Affordable Health Care Act (ACHA) and illegal immigration. Cruz filibustered for more than 21 hours in his September 2013 crusade against funding AHCA, known as Obamacare. Cruz and the Republican Party were blamed for the 2013 government shutdown when they refused to vote on a federal budget unless funding for AHCA was eliminated. The White House and Democrats would not budge and the result was a government shutdown lasting a little over two weeks before an interim agreement was signed.
NRA leadership and members attending the organization’s meeting gave enthusiastic support to Cruz and Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who is also expected to run in the 2016 presidential race. Other candidates seeking the Oval Office also attended the event.
Cruz clearly is gaining as much momentum as his campaign continues to collect money beyond the $31 million already contributed, according to political experts. That is considered a direct threat to Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential presidential contender that is a Republican mainstream and more moderate candidate. Cruz, a Tea Party favorite and considered far-right, has not fared as well as Bush and other potential candidates in opinion polls, so analysts have not considered his campaign a serious long-term effort. The money changes that, according to experts, because it indicates there are heavy-hitting donors with significant influence who support him.
By Melody Dareing
The Christian Science Monitor
Photo by Gage Skidmore – Flickr license