In time for choosing, Jewish GOP donors resolve to sit out White House race

Adelson has spent only $10 to 25 million on Trump's turbulent presidential campaign compared to the $93-110 million he spent in his efforts to elect Mitt Romney in 2012.

October 24, 2016 22:58
2 minute read.
Sheldon Adelson

Las Vegas gaming tycoon and Israel Hayom proprietor Sheldon Adelson. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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NEW YORK -- One of the world's most generous donors delivered to Donald Trump a gift this week that was the political equivalent of giving him a book for his birthday.

Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who in 2012 was the largest single donor to either candidate, secured for the GOP nominee his first endorsement by a major editorial board from a newspaper he owns: The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Trump hopes to win Nevada– a state where his rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, is leading by an average of 4 points in the polls– in his uphill climb to 270 electoral college votes. But money would go farther than a newspaper endorsement, and money is not forthcoming as donors watch a double-digit national race widen nearly two weeks before election day.

Adelson has spent only $10 to 25 million on Trump's turbulent presidential campaign compared to the $93-110 million he spent in his efforts to elect Mitt Romney in 2012. More revealing may be the gap between Adelson's own projections of support for Trump early on in the election cycle and how much he ultimately delivered: In May, the New York Times reported he originally planned to spend up to $100 million on the candidate.

Frustrated with Trump's unfocused campaign style, Adelson is now prioritizing Republican candidates in House and Senate races. Even the $10 million he has donated to a pro-Trump super PAC is meant to be spent in states with competitive statewide races, for dual use, according to a CNN report published last week.

Adelson's decision is emblematic of a wider trend: Jewish Republican donors, who have in past cycles provided critical support to their party nominee, have largely ended the deliberative process of deciding whether and how much to give. Practically speaking, there is no time left for their money to make up the significant gap for a candidate they never loved in the first place.

Several prominent Jewish Republicans held out through the very end, focusing instead on down ballot races, including Elliott Management Corporation founder Paul Singer, Baupost Group founder and Times of Israel backer Seth Klarman, head of TRT Holdings Robert Rowling, mega Florida auto dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles Norman Braman and CAM Capital chairman Bruce Kovner.

Three additional Jewish Americans listed on Bloomberg's Billionaire Index have given to Trump, but like Adelson, have donated less than they might have if the candidate were different. Richard LeFrak donated $100,000, Carl Icahn offered $50,000 and John Paulson gave $5,400 as of mid-September.

Their gifts pale in comparison to the number of billionaire donations given to Clinton by a margin of 20 to 1.

Clinton's list of billionaire backers include several Jewish Americans, including George Soros, James Simons, Steven Spielberg, George Kaiser, Eli Broad, Dustin Moskovitz, Leonard Lauder and David Geffen, among others.

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