Some of the Republican Party’s most prominent donors reacted Tuesday with shock — and then fury — to Michael Steele’s decision to seek re-election, bluntly warning that they would not raise money for the party if the controversial chairman wins another term.
None of the contributors has a vote on the committee, but with worries about the debt-ridden party’s finances hanging over Steele, the unambiguous threats could further undermine the incumbent’s already-dim prospects for victory.
While nothing firm was planned, a number of the contributors said they had been in contact with one another since Steele’s announcement Monday night about what they could do to send a message to the 168 members of the committee who will decide the next chairman in January.
“If Mr. Steele were to prevail, it will further alienate the party’s major financial supporters and most active fundraisers,” said Wayne Berman, a top Washington lobbyist and bundler who served as the McCain presidential campaign’s finance chairman in 2008. “His arrogant style, cult of personality and embarrassing mismanagement are sources of great discontent with the major fundraisers of the party.”
Should Steele return as chairman, Berman added, it will spur many donors to do what they did in 2010 and “support the many successful third-party groups.”