Now that each party has a presumptive presidential nominee, fundraising for the November election has kicked into high gear. That’s why it’s not surprising Republican Donald Trump will be in Texas this week for three fundraising events in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The Lone Star State has always been a reliable ATM for the GOP, but strategists say Trump has a lot to make up for with Republicans here – and that includes donors.
If you ask Republican strategists, Texas is still in the bag for them this election. They don't worry about winning in November. In fact, Brendan Steinhauser, a strategist who’s helped a lot of Texas Republicans win statewide races here, doesn’t see Trump coming here a lot to fight for votes.
“So, I think that he’ll come in, raise money [and] he’ll create a little of a splash,” he says. “I’m sure he will say something controversial and get some headlines that make all of our jobs a little difficult. But, you know, if they are smart, they are going to focus on Ohio and Florida.”
Steinhauser says the Texas fundraising ATM isn’t going to spit out money as easily for Trump as it has for other Republican presidential candidates.
“I do think a lot of the Republican donors that he is meeting with and raising money from in the next few days are folks who do not share a lot of his positions as stated – whether it’s on race, immigration, the border wall,” Steinhauser says.
Matt Mackowiak, another GOP strategist here, agrees. He says Trump’s recent controversial comments on Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel don’t help. Last week, Trump questioned Curiel’s ability to rule on a case involving the now-defunct Trump University, saying his Hispanic heritage prevented him from doing his job.
“The donor class has been revulsed by the comments he made in the last couple of days about this Hispanic judge,” Mackowiak says. “So, I don’t think he’s going to raise as much money in Texas as he could.
Here's where Steinhauser and Mackowiak's frustration comes from. The state's Republican donors might be less inclined to fork over cash this year because they’ve spent so much investing in the long term viability of the party – growing the Republican party in Texas by appealing to Hispanic voters – everything Trump has not been doing. Mackoviak says this all may seem like small potatoes in the scheme of things, but, for the party, it’s a big deal.
“I don’t think Trump looks at Texas as critical. You know he is going to win Texas almost no matter what. Hillary is not really going to contest it or spend money here,” he says. “So, politically, Texas doesn’t matter in the presidential election, but financially it matters to a great extent.
Like a lot of Republicans, both Mackoviak and Steinhauser hope Trump eases off things like personal attacks on Hispanics and focuses more on policy. But, they say, it’s hard to predict what he’ll do since he hasn’t really followed a careful strategy so far.