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Big Republican Donors Are Splitting Into Two Camps

Republican Presidential Candidates Debate In Iowa Days Before State's CaucusRepublican Presidential Candidates Debate In Iowa Days Before State's Caucus
Republican presidential candidates pose for photographers prior to the GOP Debate January 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Big Republican donors are splitting into two rival camps, reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission show. And that may make it hard for anyone to stop Donald Trump.

On one side, big Wall Street financiers are lining up behind Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. In the second half of 2015, a Super PAC supporting Rubio raised $14.3 million, with hedge fund managers Paul Singer and Ken Griffin each putting in $2.5 million. That Super PAC also raised money from donors who’d previously backed Jeb Bush, like coal executive Chris Cline, according to a report in the New York Times.

On the other side, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has been raising a war chest from rich donors outside the Wall Street establishment. Those donors, the Times reports, include the Wilks family of Texas, which made a fortune in shale oil and has supported anti-abortion groups; and Edward Czuker, a Los Angeles real estate developer who sits on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Besides rich evangelicals, libertarians, and pro-Israel donors, Cruz has been gathering support from longtime Republican names who’ve grown tired of politics as usual.

“I think we’re rewriting history,” Mica Mosbacher, a Cruz-backer with ties to the Bush family, told the Times. “We’ve got a civil war within the party. And people want someone who is strong.”

While the sums raised have been impressive, splitting donations between Rubio and Cruz may make it hard for either to take on Donald Trump. During the last three months of 2015, Trump lent his own campaign $10.2 million and raised $2.7 million more.

Per the Times report:

The expensive five-way shootout is a sharp departure from 2012, when virtually [all] of the Republican donors inclined to write seven-figure checks rallied behind a single candidate, Mitt Romney. And it presents a stark contrast to the Democratic contest, where the biggest checks raised by outside groups have all gone to Priorities USA, a super PAC backing Mrs. Clinton.

Of course, this all stands in contrast to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose Democratic presidential campaign reported raising more than $33 million during the last three months of 2015 and whose campaign announced yesterday that it had raised $20 million in January, almost all from individual donors With more than 770,000 donations, his average donation in January was $27.