Politically engaged millionaires have developed certain expectations in recent years. Especially at the start of a presidential nominating race, when candidates routinely cultivate relationships with prospective donors, the wealthy donor class has come to believe it's entitled to personalized attention from those seeking national office.
The Washington Post reports today
, however, that many of these millionaires are suddenly feeling neglected. Apparently, they're not quite rich enough anymore to warrant candidates' time.
At this point in the 2012 presidential race, Terry Neese was in hot demand. "Gosh, I was hearing from everyone and meeting with everyone," said Neese, an Oklahoma City entrepreneur and former "Ranger" for President George W. Bush who raised more than $1 million for his reelection. This year, no potential White House contender has called -- not even Bush's brother, Jeb. The only e-mails came from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.
"Staffers"? Politically engaged millionaires have been reduced to hearing from aides rather than the candidates themselves? The horror.
Evidently, in this new environment, with a proliferation of hyper-wealthy donors, mere millionaires don't receive the consideration and responsiveness to which they've grown accustomed. Neese told the Post that the major Republican presidential hopefuls are "only going to people who are multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires."
One former Bush Ranger complained, "What about when I get to the convention? Last time, I was sitting in a box. This time, I may not even get a ticket!"
And just think: even if he or she gets a ticket to the Republican National Convention, the former Bush Ranger may have to sit with the riff raff.
The piece added that there's "palpable angst" among donors who used to receive VIP treatment, but whose phones no longer ring: "One longtime bundler recently fielded a call from a dispirited executive on his yacht, who complained, 'We just don't count anymore.'"
That's one of the more striking sentences I've seen in a long while.
The old-school fundraisers have been temporarily displaced in the early money chase due to the rise of super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations. This year, White House hopefuls are rushing to raise money for the groups before they declare their candidacies and have to keep their distance. The VIP treatment for bundlers will still arrive, of course, but later in the cycle, when candidates become official and turn their focus to those who can raise money in smaller increments. Since campaign committees can only accept donations up to $2,700 per person in the primary, they will need teams of wired fundraisers who can bring in checks to fill their war chests.
So, chin up, millionaires. Sure, you've been temporarily pushed aside for billionaires, but soon Republican candidates will come back, telling you all about the big tax cuts they'll give you after the election.
In the meantime, enjoy the yacht.