With each week, a new parade of Presidential contenders arrives in New York for a mix of intimate, living-room meet-and-greets and colossal, concert-style fund-raisers. Some nights they head for Park Avenue, other nights for Fifth Avenue. But no matter how much the sites or scenes might vary—pinstriped Wall Street suits on one evening, media types the next—the goal is always the same: to kiss the rings of the city’s rich and connected and raise as much primary cash as possible.
Just this week, on March 13, former President Bill Clinton headlined an Art Deco affair at Cipriani 23rd Street—a big-ticket gathering hosted by power-bundlers Hassan Nemazee, Robert Zimmerman and Steve Robert, among others, that was expected to raise $500,000 for his wife’s campaign. Three days before that, it was Senator Barack Obama’s turn to pass the hat, which he did at two packed, back-to-back fund-raisers at the Grand Hyatt. And a day before that, the night belonged to Senator John McCain, who popped by the Hudson Theater for a folksy-looking “town hall” meeting that just happened to require a $1,000 to $2,300 donation.
There is a dose of irony in this last event, which was pulled together with the help of Mr. McCain’s splashy finance committee (think Henry Kravis and Howard Gittis). Less than five years ago, the Senator was busy co-sponsoring the campaign-finance-reform law that now bears his name, the McCain-Feingold Act. The purpose of the act was to help shrink the role of money in politics.
But at this early point in the competition for each party’s nomination—10 months away from the Iowa caucuses—money is what it’s all about. Candidates like Rudolph Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton are reportedly trying to raise $100 million each for the primary leg of the race—nearly double the amount that the high-rollers raised for the 2004 primaries—while, for the first time, several of the leading candidates have signaled that they’re going to forgo public financing and the limits that come with it, in both the primary and the general elections. Campaign-watchers like Michael Toner, a commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, have predicted that this will be the most expensive race in U.S. history.
To help reel in all this cash, the candidates have engaged in a race-within-a-race for the most successful bundlers, jockeying for the loyalties of the most influential, the most connected or simply the most willing. A few of these traditional suspects are still undecided, holding out for an Al Gore or Newt Gingrich announcement, but an unusually high number have already declared their undying allegiance to one or another candidate—at least for the next year or so.
What follows is a partial, unscientific list of candidates and the fund-raisers who love them, according to conversations with the campaigns, professional fund-raisers and leading donors.
Hillary Clinton’s bundling operation is a vast, well-greased money machine whose reach extends across the country. At the exclusive center of it all is a dense core of Clinton loyalists who go back as far as her husband’s 1992 Presidential campaign. These are the original Friends of Bill—now Friends of Hill—who have parlayed their commitment and fund-raising prowess into everything from ambassadorships to social status. They are power couples like Steve Rattner and Maureen White, local supermarket magnates like John Catsimatidis, and Democratic Party elders like Bernard Schwartz, who celebrated his 71st birthday in the Clinton White House in 1997. If his candidate gets lucky, he just might get to be back for his 82nd.
John Catsimatidis—chairman and C.E.O. of the Red Apple Group, which includes the Gristedes supermarket chain, and prospective self-funded Republican candidate for Mayor in 2009
Ambassador Robin Chandler Duke—grand dame of the Democratic fund-raising circuit
Betsy and Alan Cohn—old-time Clinton couple and hefty Democratic donors
Michael Del Giudice—Governor Mario Cuomo’s former chief of staff and onetime managing director of Lazard Frères
Blair Effron—former vice chair of UBS Americas, who broke into the fund-raising scene during Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign and later served as one of John Kerry’s top New York financiers
Fred Hochberg—Dean of Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy and early Clinton coffee-klatcher
Norman Hsu—apparel magnate with a fat Rolodex
Hassan Nemazee—wealthy financier and formidable fund-raiser who was tapped by President Clinton to be the U.S. ambassador to Argentina in 1999
Alan and Susan Patricof—Democratic super-bundlers and close friends of the Clintons
Lisa Perry—wife of hedge-fund heavy Richard Perry and ardent Hillary fan, who has given more than $1 million to the Democrats, according to The New York Times
Steve Rattner and Maureen White—he is a venture capitalist, she was until recently the finance chair of the Democratic National Committee; together, they are considered among the leaders of the Clinton pack
Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff—co-founders of the TriBeCa Film Festival, brought into politics by Craig’s sister, Susan Patricoff
Lady Lynn Forrester de Rothschild—new-technology entrepreneur and third of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild
Bernard Schwartz—aerospace mogul who ranked first on the Mother Jones list of the top 400 campaign contributors in 1997
Stanley Shuman—managing director of Allen & Company and early Clinton donor, who was later appointed to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
Ambassador Carl Spielvogel and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel—he is a business and marketing executive; she is an “author, civic activist, journalist, broadcaster, producer, and preservationist,” according to one bio; together, they have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Clintons and enjoyed a year-long ambassadorship to the Slovak Republic
Robert Zimmerman—a major Presidential fund-raiser since the first Clinton campaign, D.N.C. committeeman and public relations executive
The rap about John Edward’s fund-raising operation has always been that it runs off the muscle of the trial-lawyer community. This is not altogether false: Mr. Edwards does receive a hefty helping of support from lawyers like Tom Moore and Judith Livingston, prominent plaintiffs’ attorneys who became friendly with the former Senator through the Inner Circle of Advocates, an elite plaintiffs’ lawyers’ club. But there is also a core of misty-eyed believers who have been following Mr. Edwards since his first go-round and have eagerly awaited his second, raising money for his political-action committee in the meantime. These are the same people who successfully lobbied John Kerry to choose Mr. Edwards as his running mate. And while they may not have the collective heft of Mrs. Clinton’s donors, they are loyal, experienced and determined.
Ron Feldman—art dealer and veteran Democratic fund-raiser who was appointed by President Clinton to a position on the National Council for the Arts
Leo Hindery Jr.—former cable-company honcho and fund-raiser and friend of Tom Daschle who briefly flirted with running for D.N.C. chair in late 2004
Fern Hurst—philanthropist and fund-raiser-about-town who has been an Edwards devotee since his first run for President
Bob Katz—Goldman Sachs general counsel and a two-time Edwards backer
Eileen Kotecki—a top professional Democratic fund-raiser
Tom Moore and Judith Livingston—leading plaintiffs’ attorneys and staunch Edwards supporters since his 1998 Senate campaign
Laura Ross—longtime Democratic fund-raiser and former Women’s Leadership Forum chair
Richard Thaler—vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Securities and hefty Democratic fund-raiser
George Wellde—managing director of Goldman Sachs and two-time Edwards stalwart
When Barack Obama snagged the support of billionaire bundler George Soros just hours after he announced his bid for President, the ladies and gents of the donor-sphere (particularly the Hillary partisans) had to work hard to stifle a collective gasp. Then came the news that Orin Kramer, a well-established supporter of the Clintons, had defected to Mr. Obama’s camp. Now the Senator has begun throwing full-on fund-raisers, and the list of names he’s lined up for his host committees is impressive. There are prominent African-American business leaders and entertainment execs. There are old-time Democrats and young machers-in-training—some of whom were actually graduates of the first Clinton White House. There is even a reformed Bush-campaign “Pioneer”: Chelsea Piers president Tom Bernstein.
Naturally, opponents are waiting for them to stumble on their own hype.
Tom Bernstein—president and co-founder of Chelsea Piers and one of the principal owners of the Texas Rangers with George W. Bush
Michael Froman—a Citigroup executive who befriended Mr. Obama at Harvard Law School and, later, spent seven years in the Clinton administration, including several as Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s chief of staff
Anne Fudge—chairman and C.E.O. of Young and Rubicam Brands and the first African-American woman to head a global advertising agency
Earl Graves—publisher of Black Enterprise magazine who spent a cozy night at Camp David during the late Clinton years
Andre Harrell—former Motown Records president and music impresario who helped to launch the careers of Mary J. Blige, Jodeci and boy-band crooners 98 Degrees
Orin Kramer—hedge-fund manager who Bill Clinton appointed to the Commission to Study Capital Budgeting
Jeh Johnson—partner at Paul Weiss who served as general counsel of the Air Force during the Clinton White House years and special counsel to John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign
Tracy Maitland—young asset-management executive who happens to manage Russell Simmons’ fortune
Brian Mathis—managing director of Provident Group and Friend of Obama from the Harvard days who also worked in the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration
Ray McGuire—prominent Citigroup investment banker and fellow Harvard Law School alum
Eric Mindich—Wall Street whiz-kid who became a partner at Goldman Sachs at 27 and has since served as an advisor to John Kerry
Antonio (L.A.) Reid—chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group and one of the country’s most influential African-American record executives
James Rubin—private equity manager (and son of Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin) who served as a New York finance director during Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign
George Soros—billionaire financier who conservatives believe runs the world
Jonathan Soros—son of George
Josh Steiner—managing principal of Steve Rattner’s Quadrangle Group and onetime chief of staff to Clinton Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen
James Torrey—mega-fund manager who was one of Howard Dean’s prominent New York supporters in 2004
Jamie Whitehead—New York finance director for John Kerry’s 2004 campaign
Robert Wolf—chief operating officer of UBS Investment Bank
Senator Christopher Dodd is not part of his party’s Big Three Presidential contenders, but pol-watchers would be foolish to underestimate his fund-raising muscle. He’s a likeable guy and he’s well-known, at least in this part of the country. He’s also chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, putting him in a plum position to make big asks of big Wall Street players, many of whom have already proved all too happy to oblige. As of the last campaign-finance filing, he had $5 million in his war chest, placing him second only to Hillary in the money race. Said his old pal Richard Plepler: “He has a lot of friends here, and I am not having a hard time gathering money.”
Ken Brody—investment banker and former Goldman Sachs partner who was nominated by Bill Clinton to be president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States
John Eastman—entertainment lawyer and brother of Linda McCartney
Dick Ebersol—NBC Sports czar and member of the Democratic Martha’s Vineyard vacation crew
Tom Flexner (co-chair)—vice chairman of Bear Stearns
Jane Hartley (co-chair)—C.E.O. of the G7 Group, associate director in the Carter White House and Friend of Dodd since the 1970’s
Richard Plepler—executive vice president of HBO who got his start as an aide to Senator Dodd in the early 1980’s
Joe Biden and Bill Richardson
These two candidates have yet to make a big financial splash, but they have proven to be just as assiduous in their pursuit of the big-bucks bundlers as the rest of them. In some cases, they have even succeeded. Don Marron, former chairman of Paine Webber and a registered Republican, hosted a meet-the-candidate reception for his close friend Governor Richardson, while cigar-man Edgar Cullman is said to have opened up his home for Senator Biden.
Richard Davis (finance committee co-chair)—partner at Weil, Gotshal and Manges and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during the Carter administration
Jim Kreindler (finance committee co-chair)—trial lawyer specializing in aviation accident and terrorist litigation, and co-chair of the 9/11 Plaintiffs’ Committee
Scott Lawlor—C.E.O. of Broadway Partners, a bullish real-estate investment fund
Seth (Yossi) Siegel—co-founder and co-chairman of the Beanstalk Group and member of the AIPAC executive committee
Richard Sirota—private consultant and advisor
Peter Davidson—president of Davidson Media Group, a large radio broadcasting company, and first-time Democratic fund-raiser
Matthew Gohd—managing director of Pali Capital and experienced Democratic donor
Steven T. Mnuchin—chairman and C.E.O. of Dune Capital Management and member of many boards
Of all the Presidential contenders ferreting around for campaign cash, there is at least one who has not hopped on board New York’s money circuit. Dennis Kucinich, the long-shot pacifist Congressman from Ohio, has made a point of not dealing with bundlers at all. (And as far as anyone can tell, the feeling is mutual.)
“Dennis is not going to be involved with bundlers,” said Sharon Jimenez, a campaign spokeswoman. “Dennis wants to raise $50 million, but he wants to do it through having a million people give him $50.”
So far, during the two months since the Congressman launched his “Be One in a Million” fund-raising campaign, he has collected 1,300 contributions averaging $80 a person, Ms. Jimenez said. That comes to $104,000 or thereabouts. It’s an honest start, but at this rate the White House will have been bought and sold and bought again by the time Mr. Kucinich reaches his goal.
Arizona Senator John McCain may be trailing his opponent Rudy Giuliani in national polls, but here, among New York’s Republican money set, he is excelling. On Dec. 19, shortly before Mr. Giuliani held his first New York City fundraiser, the Senator—who was bidding for the mantle of undisputed front-runner before the war in Iraq wreaked havoc on his poll numbers—announced a list of 57 local finance chairs. It was a list that read like Forbes, the Social Register and a G.O.P. cheat sheet all rolled into one. At least a few, like buyout king Henry Kravis, had been actively sought by Mr. Giuliani.
Ed Cox—son in law of Richard Nixon and failed challenger for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat
Patrick Durkin—managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston and major Bush fund-raiser
Lew Eisenberg (co-chair)—former Republican National Committee finance chair and Bush Ranger
Howard Gittis—longtime consigliore to corporate raider Ron Perelman
Woody Johnson—Johnson & Johnson heir, owner of the New York Jets and Bush Ranger
Henry Kissinger (honorary co-chair)—Nixon consigliore and G.O.P. grandee
Henry Kravis—one of the original masters of the universe
James B. Lee (co-chair)—vice chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase
John Lehman—Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan days
Georgette Mosbacher—cosmetics company queen and walking Republican pocketbook who served as national co-chair of Mr. McCain’s 2000 Presidential campaign
Pete Peterson (honorary co-chair)—Republican Party elder and longtime deficit hawk who served as Secretary of Commerce under Richard Nixon and now heads the Blackstone Group
Theodore Roosevelt IV—great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and a managing director at Lehman Brothers
John Thain (co-chair)—C.E.O. of the New York Stock Exchange
John Whitehead (honorary co-chair)—white-shoe, old-school Republican who served as Deputy Secretary of State under Reagan and chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Call them Rudy Inc. The spine of the former Mayor’s fund-raising operation is made up of the same cadre that surrounded him when he ran New York, and that followed him into the private sector afterwards. But while names like Peter Powers, Michael Hess and Christyne Lategano-Nicholas will be very familiar to anyone who remembers Mr. Giuliani’s time in City Hall, his list of moneyed backers now includes names like Mel Immergut and T. Boone Pickens, the leader of Mr. Giuliani’s new Texas donor base. They are arguably less ideological as a group than the supporters of any of the other Republican candidates: They simply know Rudy, and like him.
But just as your friends remember your deeds, so do your foes—and Mr. Giuliani has his share of New York enemies, even among his G.O.P. brethren.
Kenneth Bialkin—partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and partial owner of The New York Sun
Bruce Gelb—the retired president of Clairol and former vice chairman of Bristol-Myers Squibb, whose Republican credentials earned him an ambassadorship to Belgium
Michael Hess—Mr. Giuliani’s corporation counsel during his years in office and followed him to Giuliani Partners
Mel Immergut—chairman of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and a registered independent
Kenneth Langone (finance chair)—co-founder of Home Depot, former director of the New York Stock Exchange and a longtime Rudy-booster
Christyne Lategano-Nicholas—Mr. Giuliani’s former communications director
Peter Powers—Rudy Inc. stalwart who served as his first deputy mayor, campaign manager and transition chair
Paul Singer—reclusive hedge-fund mogul and G.O.P. sugar daddy, who helped bankroll Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
Dennison Young—managing director of Giuliani Partners and Rudy’s chief counsel during his eight years in office
For all the hype surrounding his better-known opponents, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is not yet ceding his stake in the country’s Presidential cash box to anyone. Last year, he paid homage to the some of the city’s top conservative Wall Streeters at merchant-banker Mallory Factor’s Monday Meeting. (The appearance reportedly earned him a standing ovation). And just two weeks ago, on Feb. 27, Mr. Romney hosted a finance-committee kickoff breakfast at the Rockefeller Center Hotel that, by one guest’s account, featured of “very blond, very fair” types—as well as a number of boldface-name conservative Jews. “Romney would seem to be very in tune with Greenwich,” the guest said. “I think he’ll attract a lot of Wall Street money, because he’s definitely a fiscal conservative, and he’s an ideas guy. A business guy.”
Rick Lazio—failed U.S. Senate candidate turned J.P. Morgan banker
William Harrison Jr.—chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase
Stephen Lessing—executive committee member at Lehman Brothers and 2004 Bush Ranger
Julian Robertson—philanthropist and founder of Tiger Management, one of the original hedge funds
Phil Rosen—partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and all-around Republican-Jewish mover and shaker
Stanley Druckenmiller—hedge-fund wizard who made his name managing money for George Soros
Bill Weld—former governor of Massachusetts and co-chair of Mr. Romney’s New York State campaign
Last Monday, former Tennessee Senator turned TV actor Fred Thompson declared that he might—just might—make a play for the Big Director’s seat, and that he’ll make his decision in the coming months. Just a few weeks earlier, Texas Congressman Ron Paul posted a video on his Web site announcing his intention to shoot for the Oval Office. And not long before that, hard-line California Congressman Duncan Hunter made his own in-it-to-win-it declaration.
Populist Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has declared, as has Senator Sam Brownback. Anti–Iraq War renegade Chuck Hagel, meanwhile, has announced … that he’ll announce his intentions later.
The one thing that can be said of all of them is that they have no visible fund-raising apparatus in New York.
Maybe these candidates are just operating below the radar, on double-super-secret background. Or maybe they think New York—City of Lights, City of Mammon—is just too blue.
Follow Lizzy Ratner via RSS.