By Mark Steffen
High-level donors within the Republican Party are starting to come around on former President Donald Trump’s candidacy after spending years searching for an alternative, one of the clearest signs yet that the Republican frontrunner has essentially cinched up the nomination.
ABC News reports that some of the party’s biggest philanthropists, including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm, are switching horses after previously backing Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, respectively. In November, Marcus announced his support in a surprise op-ed on RealClearPolitics.
“I understand the frustration of some of my Republican friends who do not like or are offended by things Donald Trump does and says,” Marcus wrote. “I, too, have been frustrated at times, but we cannot let his brash style be the reason we walk away from his otherwise excellent stewardship of the United States during his first term in office.”
“I endorse him not only because he has the best chance of winning the general election but because he is the best person to take on and dismantle the administrative state that is strangling America,” Marcus argued.
Hamm previously told The Financial Times that the January 6th, 2021 riots at the Capitol “separated a lot of people” and that the party would do better to have a chaos-free candidate in 2024. Last month, however, Hamm met privately with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago before cutting a $200,000 check to his super PAC.
Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor who supports DeSantis and was previously a supporter of the 45th president, said the moves are not surprising given the inability of GOP alternatives to gain traction in the polls.
“He’s saying the quiet part out loud,” Eberhart said, describing his own thoughts on Hamm’s moves. “Even for the people that don’t really prefer Trump, it’s about time to come home, rally around Trump, and he recognizes that.”
“I’m still firmly with DeSantis, but look, again, the quiet part out loud: At some point, I’m gonna have to make a switch if he doesn’t win the nomination,” Eberhart said.
Eberhart added that the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus will be a make-or-break moment for DeSantis, Haley, and other candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy.
“If Trump wins Iowa, I think he hits escape velocity,” Eberhart said. “And there’s a sense of inevitability to a certain extent. The media and people like me are just pretending there’s a race going.”
Bill White, a longtime fundraising bundler for Trump, said he is starting to see movement among donors in his network who until now sat on the sidelines waiting to see if anyone could puncture Trump’s air of inevitability.
“One couple from Chicago was just on the fence, just waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting,” White said. “But they gave after the speech,” he added. “They said, ‘Look, I went online and donated the max. It looks like he’s gonna be the nominee.’”
Don Tapia, another donor who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Jamaica under President Trump, said he has come around on his former boss after having a “question mark” in his mind about Trump’s ability to beat President Joe Biden.