With Pence, Trump Adds a Connected Fundraiser to His Ticket
In picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Republican Donald Trump has added a seasoned fundraiser who could bring fresh energy and new donors to a finance operation lagging far behind that of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Pence, who has raised $38 million to run for Congress and governor since 1999, plus millions more for other politicians, has a donor network that ranges from pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly & Co. to wealthy investors including John W. Childs and Roger Hertog.
"He was a prodigious fundraiser in Washington, D.C. and as governor of Indiana," said Kellyanne Conway, a pollster who has worked for Pence and is now a Trump adviser. "He should convince some of the 'stop Trump' donors to reconsider."
As a candidate for governor, Pence, 57, has raised about $1.3 million from lawyers and lobbyists, $821,000 from the real-estate industry, $637,000 from builders, and millions from various conservative groups and party committees, according to the National Institute for Money in State Politics.
But Pence won't bring all along all his donors. He has long been a favorite of the conservative donor network overseen by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, and has spoken at Koch-sponsored events. (David Koch contributed $300,000 to his gubernatorial campaigns, according the institute. And one of Pence's former aides, Marc Short, went on to serve as head of Freedom Partners, the Kochs' umbrella organization.) But the network has rejected the idea of supporting Trump in the general election, and Charles Koch, in a recent interview with Fortune, compared the choice between Trump and Clinton to "cancer or heart attack."
Pence's addition to the ticket wouldn't change the group's stance, according to James Davis, a spokesman for Freedom Partners. "Our efforts will remain focused on the Senate," he said in an e-mail.
Club for Growth, a free-market and anti-tax group that has supported Pence over the years, spent millions of dollars during the Republican presidential primary on ads opposing Trump. Doug Sachtleben, a spokesman for the group, said that even though Club for Growth has never taken part in general presidential elections and doesn't plan to this time, Pence could still help Trump draw donations from their supporters.
"We think Pence would be a great VP, and his addition might make some of our members more inclined to support the ticket," Sachtleben said in an e-mail. "He's great on our issues."
Clinton's campaign had raised $229 million through the end of May, while Trump had taken in $63.1 million. In June, his first full month of fundraising as the presumptive nominee, Trump's campaign said it raised an additional $51 million for his campaign and the party.
In a statement following Trump's announcement, former Indiana representative and Club for Growth president David McIntosh praised the pick. "Mike Pence would be an outstanding Vice-President," the statement said. " He has been a strong supporter of free trade agreements, and he stood up to his own party's leadership against the expansion of the entitlement state."
In his gubernatorial campaigns, Pence has courted some deep-pocketed donors. Indiana campaign-finance law allows unlimited contributions from individuals and political action committees. Pence's biggest donors include the Republican Governors Association, real-estate developer Dean White, who's given $775,000 and Tony Moravec, CEO of over-the-counter consumer health product maker BlairEx Laboratories, who's given $445,000.
"Governor Pence has been a very effective fundraiser for the RGA," said Jon Thompson, a spokesman for the group, adding that Pence had raised millions for the organization, either alone or in tandem with other Republican state executives. "He's been a very active member, a very devoted member, and Governor Pence has helped us elect other conservative governors across the country."
-- With assistance from Zachary Mider.