They’re dying off: Texas Republicans lose three billionaire donors in 2013One billionaire Republican donor died over the weekend, and two other major donors in Texas died recently, which could be a game changer in the Red State.
Harold Simmons, who died over the weekend, helped transform Texas from a Democrat-controlled state in the 1970s to a Republican stronghold by the turn of the century.
The Star Tribune reports, “Simmons’ death Saturday came after Republicans lost home builder Bob Perry in April and businessman Leo Linbeck Jr. in June. For decades, all three helped bankroll political campaigns both in Texas and nationwide.”
Let’s have a moment of silence for these three men. OK, all done.
Matt Mackowiak, a prominent Republican political consultant said, ”It leaves a huge question mark for Republican candidates and political organizations that have relied on major contributions from those two or three individuals for the last decade.
He added, “Their generosity made a huge difference in a lot of races over a long period of time, but it was their potential to always contribute more that probably prevented a lot of races from ever taking place at all by scaring off potential competitors.”
The Tribune reports:
Simmons, who had an estimated net worth of $10 billion, gave at least $12.6 million to candidates in Texas races since 2000, according to the Texas Ethics Commission. The Center for Public Integrity named him the second-largest donor to national political action committees for 2011-2012, giving away $31 million to conservative groups.(my bold)
Houston tycoon Bob Perry, no relation to the Texas governor, made his fortune building tract homes across the state and made at least $75 million in political contributions in his lifetime, not counting confidential gifts to super PACs, which can campaign independently for candidates. He gave $4.4 million to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, which sought to discredit Democrat John Kerry’s war record when he challenged President George W. Bush in 2004. Simmons also gave the group $3 million.
Linbeck, whose family also made its fortune in construction, helped create two of the state’s most influential conservative organizations, Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Americans for Fair Taxation. TLR spent millions on candidates who supported limits on lawsuits against businesses and AFT campaigns to replace the national income tax with a national sales tax.
The full extent of their donations may never be known, since many were made privately.
According to James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, there is a generational change taking place in the Republican Party that coincides with the growing fight between grass-roots tea party conservatives like Cruz, and the more pragmatic business wing of the party, represented by Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
He said, “We associate these guys with an era of Republican politics in this state that is in transition and possibly becoming something different. These were the guys who were the bedrock donors for the business wing of the Republican Party, and as politics has gotten more polarized, the party has a more ideological bent to it. These were guys in big business who were motivated by classical business interests.”
The loss of donors will hurt establishment Republicans the most. The infighting in the GOP is fracturing their base. Ted Cruz is just a flash in the pan, garnering attention without doing his job. Establishment Republicans are a dying breed. GOPers are distancing themselves from the acidic Tea Party, the monster which they helped create.
It’s like one big funeral with all the relatives fighting over the corpse.
More at the Star Tribune.