Lansing – A California film director, a Nevada politician, a Hawaiian architect and a Montana rancher provided four of more than 90,000 contributions that resulted in a record fundraiser for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election campaign in the past first seven months of 2022.
From Jan. 1 to July 17, donors from every state donated money to support Whitmer, helping the Democrat raise $9.5 million, a total that’s nearly triple what the last two governors in Michigan’s fiscal year collected over a similar period.
The total donations reflect the national spotlight that has been shone on Whitmer over the past two years as she governed a battleground state during a global pandemic and was seen as a potential running mate for President Joe Biden.
Her fundraising shows “instant viability” if she herself decides to run for president one day because of her ability to reach a domestic donor base, said David Dulio, a political science professor at the University. from Oakland.
“It’s a pretty amazing report,” Dulio said.
Whitmer is running for a second term as governor in November with five Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination to challenge her.
Of the $9.5 million Whitmer’s campaign has brought in so far this year, about $5.6 million, or nearly 60%, has come from individuals or political action committees who have listed Michigan addresses, according to an analysis by Detroit News.
About $3.9 million or 41% came from donors in the other 49 states or jurisdictions. Contributors from California gave about $956,000, followed by $463,000 from individuals or groups from New York and about $239,000 from Texas.
His out-of-state donors included director Steven Spielberg of Los Angeles, who gave $7,150, the maximum an individual can contribute to a gubernatorial candidate under Michigan law.
Microsoft executive Bradford Smith of Washington state, investor Donald Sussman of Florida, and billionaire businessman Dirk Ziff of New York have also each given their all in the re-election effort. Whitmer, according to the new report.
Gustavo Portela, communications director for the Republican Party of Michigan, said that with each new fundraising disclosure, it becomes increasingly clear that Whitmer “continues to raise his national profile to run for president.”
“Before she thought about this race, the people of Michigan strongly believed that our state was heading in the wrong direction, and it was because of the policies she put in place,” Portela said. “Instead of focusing on her national profile, she should be focusing on the issues that the Michiganders elected her to solve that she still doesn’t like fixing our fucking roads and now bringing relief that she constantly been an obstacle in recent months.”
Whitmer, a former state lawmaker, won her first term as governor in 2018 by 9 percentage points over Republican Bill Schuette, who was then state attorney general.
For this election cycle, Whitmer’s campaign has brought in about $12.3 million.
As of July 17, 114 days before Election Day, Whitmer’s campaign has raised about $29.3 million for the 2022 cycle.
Whitmer’s latest campaign finance disclosure revealed that the governor’s campaign benefited from 117 fundraisers in 2022. However, it’s unclear how many of those events Whitmer personally attended.
The functions included a “Silicon Valley” event in California that raised $23,850 in March, a May event in Denver that raised $11,350 in contributions, and a luncheon in San Francisco that raised $8,292.
On June 30 – the day the Legislative Assembly convened to approve next year’s $76 billion budget – Whitmer’s campaign held an event on Mackinac Island that raised 27,000 $.
The fundraiser was described in his new campaign finance disclosure as “the Musser event”, referring to the family who once owned the Grand Hotel.
On May 5, the Whitmer campaign held a Blue Cross Blue Shield event in Detroit that generated $217,075 in contributions. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the largest insurer in the state. Daniel Loepp, the organization’s president and CEO who is considered a political mentor to the governor, gave Whitmer $7,150 on May 2, according to a disclosure.
Seven days after the Blue Cross fundraiser, Whitmer’s campaign had a “Parfet event” on May 12. The address for this feature was the same one used in campaign materials by William Parfet of Hickory Corners, co-founder of MPI Research and a key contributor to former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s policy efforts.
This event raised $74,800.
William Parfet previously contributed to Whitmer’s re-election campaign. His wife, Barbara, donated $7,150 on May 12, according to the new disclosure.
Celebrities and billionaires
Well-known business and entertainment figures also featured in Whitmer’s list of more than 90,000 individual contributions.
As for celebrities, Spielberg, who directed “Jurassic Park” and “Jaws,” and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, each donated $7,150 in March.
Another famous filmmaker, Rob Reiner from California, donated $2,500 that same month. Reiner directed “A Few Good Men” and “The Princess Bride.”
Los Angeles fashion designer Thomas Ford donated $7,500 to Whitmer’s campaign in February. In March, the campaign reimbursed him $350 because his contribution exceeded the individual donation limit of $7,150.
Among the business leaders who backed Whitmer were Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn, who donated $5,000, and Jeff Lawson, CEO of technology company Twilio, who donated $7,150.
Two members of the family who founded the Walmart retailer also donated to Whitmer’s campaign. James Walton provided $6,000 while Christy Walton provided $5,000. Both listed an address in Arkansas, where the company is headquartered.
A member of another billionaire family, Jonathan Soros, CEO of JS Capital Management LLC, donated $7,150 in February.
Los Angeles’ Elaine Wynn — who co-founded Wynn Resorts with her former husband Steve Wynn, a Republican mega-donor — donated $2,500 to Whitmer’s campaign.
As for political figures, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, donated $1,000 in March, and Albert Gore III, son of former Vice President Al Gore, donated $2,500 in June. .
How the total compares
Whitmer’s campaign reported having $14.7 million in cash still available as of July 18.
Of the five GOP primary field candidates, Bloomfield Township businessman Kevin Rinke, who provided $10 million of his own money for his campaign, had the most available: $4.2 million.
Conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores had $537,899 in cash and chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan said he had $332,096 available. The other two Republican candidates, realtor Ryan Kelley of Allendale and Pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills, each had less than $40,000.
The Republican primary election is August 2.
In a statement on Friday, the Whitmer campaign said her record showed “broad grassroots support.”
“Our campaign is proud to have the support of Michiganders in every county as Governor Whitmer continues to work with anyone to solve the kitchen table issues that matter most,” said Maeve Coyle, director of communications for countryside.
At the same time before the 2014 election, in which Republican Rick Snyder was seeking a second term as governor of Michigan, his campaign had $4.7 million, about a third of Whitmer’s total. Snyder’s campaign reported raising $3.3 million from January 1, 2014 to July 20, 2014, about 35% of Whitmer’s haul.
In 2006, when the then Democratic government. Jennifer Granholm was seeking a second term, her campaign had approximately $7.2 million at a similar time. She raised $3.3 million through July 23 of that year.