A network of influential Republican donors, known as the American Opportunity Alliance, will gather in Dallas next month as advisers to two candidates, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and former Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, make their final pitches for support. The wealthy real-estate developer Harlan Crow, an ally of Republicans, will host the event. This meeting is seen as a last effort by some donors to determine whether investing in DeSantis or Haley is worth it, given Donald Trump’s strong lead in the polls and his tendency to retaliate against those who oppose him. The gathering reflects growing concerns among top Republican donors that a divided primary will inevitably lead to Trump’s renomination.
While some members of the American Opportunity Alliance are already supporting DeSantis or Haley, the group does not act in unison. The presence of Brooke Rollins, a former Trump administration adviser, and Linda McMahon, a former Trump appointee, at the event highlights the complex dynamics within the Republican Party. Trump’s lead in the polls and his call for the Republican National Committee to cancel the remaining primary debates and rally behind him demonstrate the current reality of the race. The primary goal of the meeting is to assess campaign teams’ strategies for defeating President Biden in the upcoming election, while Trump’s path to victory is viewed as straightforward.
Although DeSantis and Haley are among the leading Republicans seeking to challenge Trump, they lag far behind in the polls. DeSantis, who has been Trump’s top rival for most of this year, has seen his support wane in recent months while other candidates gain ground. He is now banking on a strong showing in Iowa to revive his candidacy, but his comments downplaying the Russian incursion into Ukraine have upset some donors within the American Opportunity Alliance. For Haley, being given equal importance as DeSantis at this crucial donor meeting is seen as a success, as her strong performances in debates have started to translate into momentum and financial support.
The difficulty of stopping Trump’s nomination was underscored by a memo from Win It Back PAC, a group that has spent millions of dollars targeting Trump’s support in Iowa. The memo revealed that attempts to undermine Trump’s conservative credentials on specific issues have been ineffective, with Republican primary voters rationalizing and dismissing such criticisms. As a result, groups opposing Trump’s candidacy have scaled back their spending, as his victory in the primary appears increasingly certain. These groups are now focusing their resources on opposing Trump in the general election.
Despite the efforts and concerns of Republican donors and strategists, Trump’s dominance in the primary remains strong, making it challenging for candidates like DeSantis and Haley to gain traction. The upcoming donor meeting will serve as a critical opportunity for these candidates to convince donors of their viability, but Trump’s commanding lead and die-hard base of supporters present significant obstacles to their campaigns.