One of Wall Street's big-time Republican fund-raisers, Morgan Stanley (MS) CEO John Mack, has told BusinessWeek that he and his wife, Christy, are endorsing Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom they supported for re-election as senator.
Mack previously reached Ranger status in Republican campaign finance circles by raising at least $200,000 for President George W. Bush's reelection in 2004. (Former Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Hank Paulson, now U.S. Treasury Secretary, raised a Pioneer-worthy $100,000.) Mack, who says he'll stay a registered Republican, was also considered a possible candidate for various Bush Administration posts over the years.
It's too early to tell who the other major bank chiefs will back. But Mack's switch could tip the balance of power toward the Democrats. According to nonpartisan contribution tracker PoliticalMoneyLine, three of the other top six bank CEOs (Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein, Lehman's (LEH) Richard Fuld Jr., and JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) Jamie Dimon) have favored Democrats in their political giving patterns over the past few years. Bear Stearns (BSC) CEO Jimmy Cayne is strongly Republican. Citigroup's (C) Charles Prince and Merrill Lynch (MER) CEO Stan O'Neal have bipartisan donation habits.
Why did Mack switch to a Democratic Presidential contender? It started four years ago, when Senator Clinton spoke at Credit Suisse (CS), where Mack was then co-CEO. Clinton, he says, appeared willing to work with Republicans and had a firm grasp of financial industry and health-care issues. Mack is a board member of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Christy, a doctor's daughter, is president of the Bravewell Collaborative, a medical foundation. "I know we're associated mainly with the Republicans, but we've always gone for the individual," says Mack, who gave almost $70,000 to Republicans in the past five years, vs. $10,000 to four Democratic congressional hopefuls, including Clinton. Mack's endorsement, Clinton told BusinessWeek, "sends a signal that we need to get beyond politics as usual and the partisan divide."