Click here to read the full December 1, 2014 Dallas Morning News article.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s ambitions are clear. He’s a frequent visitor to Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s building a campaign staff.
But to make a serious White House bid takes serious money — at least $20 million by the time the first ballots are cast in early 2016. And that could be a challenge.
Although the Texas Republican is popular at conservative gatherings, Cruz has shown only modest success as a fundraiser. Like Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, he can probably count on showers of cash from enthusiastic legions of small-dollar donors, and that’s an important start.
But many major GOP donors and bundlers want nothing to do with a tea party agitator — particularly business interests dismayed by the federal-spending brinkmanship Cruz has advocated. That could limit his ability to elbow aside well-funded rivals.
“There are very few people I’ve seen inspire the grass roots like Ted Cruz,” said Eytan Laor, a Miami Republican who runs a political action committee that backed about 100 conservative federal candidates this year. But “he has a rap on him from people who don’t know him — the government shutdown, not electable, etc. It’s an issue.”
Much of the party’s donor class is rooting for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or, at the least, waiting to see whether he makes a move.
“The big elephant in the room is Jeb Bush,” said Ray Washburne, a Dallas developer and national finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is neutral in the race. “Donors are all waiting to see what Jeb’s move is.”
He added: “You don’t want to be the first mover to Ted Cruz or Rand Paul if Jeb ends up running. Everyone wants to get behind whoever they think is going to win.”
Washburne figures it will take at least $10 million to be viewed as “a legitimate candidate” by the time of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary in early 2016. And $20million would be better. The contest could be over by mid-April, and the nominee likely will be someone who raked in at least $50 million by then, though fundraising tends to snowball for the winner of early contests.
Cruz raised about $15 million in his insurgent Senate run in 2012. That was enough to shove aside Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, with the help of a wave of tea-party support in the GOP primary. Federal campaign records show that in the last two years, he’s raised $7.3 million for his Senate fund; his Jobs Growth and Freedom Fund political action committee; and a “victory” fund that has made transfers to those other entities.
Individual donors, as opposed to political committees, account for two-thirds of the revenue.
As an indication of his drawing power, after his overnight Senate talkathon against the Affordable Care Act last year, Cruz raked in more than $200,000 in a single week. And other help is available: Last month, Cruz’s roommate and debate partner from Princeton, David Panton, created a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums to support a candidate. The group is called Stand for Principle.