Jewish donors are topping the fundraising efforts in the United States 2018 midterm elections, with Jewish mega-donors on both sides of the aisle leading the charge.
The undisputed king and queen of 2018 giving has been casino billionaire and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who are the Republican Party’s largest donors. Former New York City Mayor, who has topped the list of Democratic mega donors, has beat out the Adelsons as the midterm’s largest single contributor.
In September, the Jewish billionaire Adelson couple pumped $32 million into the GOP, according to a Tuesday report in Politico, which called the couple “a primary source of strength” for the Republicans. Politico estimated that thus far, the Adelsons have given at least $88 million to Republican candidates and super PACS, which, unlike official individual candidate war chests, have no limits on contributions or spending.
The scale of the Adelsons’ generosity overshadows the fact that some former Jewish Republican supporters have withdrawn the support they had previously shown for the GOP due to their distaste for Trump. Leslie Wexner, who once gave generously to candidates like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, renounced the party. Seth Klarman, a registered Independent who was once one of the largest Republican donors in New England is actively supporting Democratic candidates. Another Jewish mega-donor less than enamored of Trump, Paul Singer, may not have switched teams, but his contributions to the Republican cause in 2018 appear to be only a fraction of the $26 million he poured into GOP efforts in 2016. And Norman Braman, the billionaire auto dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, who was a mainstay of Republican donations for decades, appears to have completely refrained from supporting any politicians or PACs in 2018, and gave less than $10,000 in 2017.
The GOP has reportedly become increasingly reliant on the Adelsons, staunch supporters of President Donald Trump, to counter an unprecedented level of support for Democrats, which is causing GOP panic. Much of that comes from small contributors, but there are also some heavy hitters on the Democratic side, in what is being called a cash-fueled “green wave” of Democratic financial resources available for “get out the vote” efforts such as television ads.
- Adelsons' new donations to GOP candidates bring total to close to $100 million
- Bloomberg donating $20 mln to Democratic U.S. Senate candidates
- Jacky Rosen takes lead in Nevada senate race polls, despite Sheldon Adelson
Small-scale donors have given over a billion dollars to midterm Democratic candidates on the ActBlue website.
But the Democrats have big givers as well, including no shortage of Jewish heavy hitters, either. Two of them rival Adelson couple’s title of “biggest spenders on federal elections in all of American politics.”
Tom Steyer is the hedge fund billionaire who has advocated impeaching President Trump – and even toyed with the idea of running for President himself in 2020. Steyer has said he plans to donate $110 million in 2018, a sum approaching the amount he donated in 2016, when he was the country’s largest individual donor. In addition to opening his wallet, Steyer has been crisscrossing the country in person with his NextGen America PAC, supporting progressive candidates and working to turn out young voters.
Bloomberg - another high-profile Jewish billionaire and possible presidential hopeful - has resources that rival Steyer’s financial muscle. Bloomberg, the Republican-turned-Democrat former New York mayor, worth more than $50 billion, has already poured more than $100 million into midterm races, beating out the Adelsons as the midterm’s largest single donor. That exceeds the $80 million he said in June that he was planning to contribute.
Other Jewish donors who have put millions - and in some cases tens of millions - into SuperPACs supporting Democrats include Donald Sussman, James and Marilyn Simons, and the Republican’s bete noire - George Soros.
Other donors on the Democratic side may not be giving the largest amounts, but they offer the added bonus of Hollywood glitz to their contributions. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bill Maher have all given multi-million dollar donations to candidates and PACS.
Money - no matter who it comes from - doesn’t always determine the outcome of races. But the ability to initiate - and counter - expensive ad campaigns from opponents, or pay for voter turnout efforts such as assisting elderly or handicapped voters get to the polls on election day certainly has an impact. And with key races in the 2018 midterms too close to call, that impact can mean the difference between winning and losing.