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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ted Cruz ranks second in donations as Walker supporters raise $26 million

WASHINGTON — Two groups supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential run have raised more than $26 million, even though the Republican did not formally enter the race until last week. The haul puts Walker in fourth place in the GOP’s money race, behind Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The Unintimidated PAC, which was started in April by two of Walker’s closest political advisers, has collected just over $20 million, The Washington Post has learned. The super PAC was named for Walker’s 2013 book that chronicled his highly visible fight with public-sector unions and is able to accept unlimited donations, although it is required to disclose its donor list.

Our American Revival, a nonprofit advocacy group Walker started in January, raised $6.2 million. A third state-level group, Friends of Scott Walker, raised nearly $6 million, although that money cannot be used to get Walker to the White House. The totals are as of June 30, nearly two weeks before Walker announced his candidacy.

It’s unknown how much money Walker’s campaign and a previous “testing the waters committee” have raised thus far, as he was not formally a candidate on June 30, the latest deadline for candidates to disclose such totals. The next such deadline is Oct. 15.

Republican presidential hopefuls have not been able to keep up with fundraising powerhouse Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who has tapped his family’s deep donor network to collect nearly $120 million, nearly all of which was collected by an allied PAC. In second place is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with a total of more than $51 million, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has a war chest of more than $45 million. Walker is ahead of the rest of the crowded field, including former Texas governor Rick Perry with $17.9 million.

Walker’s supporters point to the potential for him to quickly gather even more money, now that he is formally a candidate. Aides have said they hope to have at least $40 million on hand by early next year. Nearly 300 people donated to the super PAC and 2,500 donated to the nonprofit political organization, many of whom are expected to make additional, likely larger donations.

And those in charge of fundraising for the campaign are expected to utilize the Friends of Scott Walker donor list, again reaching out to donors across the country who supported Walker’s gubernatorial races, including a controversial recall election in 2012 that he won.

“Even before Governor Walker officially became a candidate, enthusiasm for his bold record and for winning big fights is palpable and has empowered us to raise a significant sum that is securely within the top-tier of independent organizations this election cycle,” said Keith Gilkes, the director of the Unintimidated PAC, said in an email. “We are well positioned to tell Governor Walker’s story of being unintimidated by special interests and Washington’s government-knows-best mentality – proving that big, bold ideas can win.”

Key donors, according to an official with the super PAC, include: Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade, and his wife, Marlene Ricketts; Diane Hendricks, owner and chairman of Wisconsin-based ABC Supply, a wholesale distributor of roofing, window and siding materials; Wisconsin businessman Richard Uihlein and his wife Elizabeth Uihlein; hedge fund billionaire John Paulson; Texas businessman Bob Rowling; investment banker Warren Stephens; software CEO Jim Goodnight; supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis; and media mogul John Malone.

Matea Gold contributed to this report.

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