All year, we’ve been warning about the grave political and demographic danger Republicans will find themselves in if they fail to pass immigration reform this year. According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Republicans who oppose immigration reform may also find themselves in financial trouble–with their own Republican campaign contributors who are not happy that legislation they support has not been passed yet. Read below for excerpts, or read the full article here.
Some donors say they are withholding political contributions from members of Congress who don’t support action on immigration, and many are calling top House leaders. Their hope is that the party can gain ground with Hispanic voters, make needed changes in immigration policy and offset some of the damage that polls show it is taking for the shutdown.
“I’m concerned as an American, first of all. I’m certainly concerned as a Republican,” said Fred Zeidman, a Texas oil executive and fundraiser. “For my party to fight the inevitable, I think, is so incredibly shortsighted.”
Many donors said they have taken their concerns directly to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor. That includes Mr. Zeidman and Carlos Gutierrez, who served in George W. Bush’s cabinet and is now heading the group Republicans for Immigration Reform, as well as lobbyist Charlie Black and GOP fundraiser Fred Malek.
After the recent fiscal negotiations, commentators speculated that a rift was growing between the GOP’s business-friendly wing and its Tea Party wing. Immigration reform is another issue where the two seem primed to disagree, and business conservatives fear that Republicans will listen to Tea Partiers on immigration the way they allowed Tea Partiers to force a shutdown and debt crisis:
Mr. Gutierrez said he has turned down two Republicans who sought contributions—one a senator and one a member of the House—because they oppose immigration legislation. “In my lonely crusade, that’s what I can do,” he said. Norman Braman, a Miami businessman and donor, said he is asking candidates for their stance on immigration when they seek campaign contributions, and that he is likely to turn down those who don’t back the legislation. He thinks now is a time for donors to flex their muscles.
“People are now looking to the elections in 2014, and that’s when they begin coming around to people like me,” he said.
John Rowe of Chicago, the former CEO of Exelon Corp., has held fundraisers for Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the architects of the Senate immigration bill. He also has donated to GOP Reps. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Aaron Shock of Illinois, who support a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
“It’s absolutely frustrating. It’s terribly concerning,” Mr. Rowe said, referring to the lack of progress of an immigration overhaul in the House. “I am very frustrated as a Republican.”
After all, it’s been a year since the 2012 election, where Republicans received their shellacking from Latino voters thanks to Mitt Romney and his support for self-deportation. Many GOPers would like to avoid such a repeat failure–but that involves Republicans passing immigration reform. As the article concludes:
“The day after the election, all I’m hearing everywhere is, ‘We’ve got to open the tent.’ We’re one year later. Do you see the tent opening?” said Mr. Zeidman, the Texas oil executive. “They forgot where the door to the tent is.”