How US Republican Nikki Haley is raising money before the election

The Koch network, JP Morgan, Citadel – many influential donors are now supporting the Republican candidate for president. Can this pose a threat to Donald Trump?

One thing is certain: Whenever Donald Trump Jr., the bearded son of the former US president, thinks he has to insult someone, then people in Washington know that there is a new topic of conversation in the Trump clan. That something must have pissed off the real estate entrepreneur and possible candidate for president again.

On Tuesday of this week it happened again: “It’s impressive how eager these people are to burn their money,” wrote Trump Jr. on the platform X. What was meant was the conservative network Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP), which was once founded by US billionaires Charles and David Koch, two very influential super-rich people from the conservative-libertarian spectrum of American society. AFP had publicly announced that it would support Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and the only woman in the field, in the Republican primary. “We want to support a candidate who is able to overcome the toxic culture in Washington – and a candidate who can win,” wrote AFP boss Emily Seidel in a public memorandum. “That candidate is Nikki Haley.”

Bill collectors drum for Haley

Now, on the surface, the Trump team shouldn’t have to worry about the nomination. Trump is still miles ahead of all other Republican candidates in the polls, and Haley is also among the others. However, the 51-year-old has recently made gains and attracted a lot of attention in the television debates that Trump avoided. Above all, Haley has recently been able to attract more and more wealthy donors such as the Koch network to her side – a factor that is not always decisive, but an important one in the American election campaign.

In the past few weeks alone, her country’s former UN ambassador has been able to gather several new supporters: Ken Griffin, founder of the Citadel hedge fund and major Republican donor, described Haley as a “rock star” and announced that he was “actively considering” throwing his support behind the candidate place. Billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller and precious metals entrepreneur Andy Sabin have already jumped on the Haley bandwagon. After candidate Tim Scott of South Carolina dropped out of the race, influential business leaders in the state like Chad Walldorf began supporting Haley. The successful money collector and lawyer Eric Levine, who also previously drummed for Scott, now works for Haley.

The main thing is not Trump

All of this suggests that the Republicans’ “The main thing is not Trump” camp is gradually rallying behind Haley – a candidate who, with many of her positions, represents the classic Republican mainstream and is free from the erratic, anti-democratic cries of the former president. First of all, this is bad news for Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, who was originally considered the most promising Trump challenger.

In the medium term, however, the money and the advisors that Haley gathers around him could also become a problem for Trump. Namely if the view prevails not only among donors but also among Republican supporters that Trump cannot win the presidential election next year – as the AFP boss suggests in his memorandum. While the ex-president is neck-and-neck in the polls with incumbent President Joe Biden, Haley is well ahead of Biden. These are numbers that should be viewed with great caution given the dynamic nature of what is happening, but they are being carefully noted in the Republican establishment.

In addition, Trump has to deal with a whole cascade of legal proceedings; it is not even impossible that he will become a legally convicted criminal in the middle of next year’s election campaign. Haley appears to many influential donors to be a clean alternative; she could step in even if Trump ultimately gives up under the weight of the lawsuits.

Electable for Democrats too?

Haley has a quality that Trump, who is hated in the Democratic camp, definitely does not have – she also seems electable to independents and more conservative Democrats. Jamie Dimon, the head of the largest US bank JP Morgan made a strong call for support for Haley at a conference: “Even if you’re a very liberal Democrat, I’m calling on you to help Nikki Haley,” Dimon said. “There needs to be an alternative on the Republican side that could be better than Trump.” Weeks earlier it had become known that Haley had met with Dimon.

In addition to the money that is now flowing to the applicant, the networks and the number of potential helpers are likely to play a role – especially when the first concrete primaries take place in Iowa and New Hampshire at the beginning of next year. According to its own information, the Koch network in particular has thousands of activists who are now supposed to knock on doors, send emails and advertise for Haley.

Before the presidential election in 2016, parts of the Koch network had supported the Trump camp, and his deputy Mike Pence in particular found the goodwill of donors at the time. As US media reported, numerous Koch loyalists subsequently worked in the victorious Trump’s expanded team.

The fact that this network no longer considers him to be a promising candidate ultimately triggered the anger of Trump himself. “This is bad for our country,” thundered the ex-president on his own network Truth Social. “These losers have been fighting me since 2016.” It is completely unclear whether all of this will be enough to defeat Trump, also because no one knows how the legal proceedings will influence the election campaign. But one thing is clear: Haley has annoyed Trump before.

This article first appeared here at Capital