He dropped precipitously in recent polls after conservatives began to question his stance on illegal immigration, but most political pundits still think Rick Perry has a strong chance at winning the GOP presidential nomination. Perry's still in the running in part because of the relative weakness of the rest of the field. Mitt Romney, who looks like the consensus candidate, has made a career of straying from conservative dogma, including passing universal health care as governor of Massachusetts. And the candidates who have stuck close to the Tea Party line, Michele Bachmann specifically, are mostly unserious contenders, whose campaigns appear predicated on book sales rather than governance.
With Perry, conservative Republicans were supposed to have a serious candidate who, most importantly of all, brought a fundraising infrastructure to the game. He tallied over $17 million during his first month and a half as a candidate. Super PACs sprung up to tout his campaign before Perry had even entered the race complete with a $100,000 gift to one group from his frequent campaign contributor Harold Simmons.
But as Huffington Post reports, Perry's biggest career donor hasn't added a cent to his campaign coffers yet this year. Texas homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation to Rick) has contributed over $2.5 million to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns, yet did not boost the governor's presidential bid as of the last campaign finance filings.
While the report shows that neither Bob Perry nor his wife have donated to Rick Perry's presidential bid, Bob Perry has given money to other candidates. The biggest recipient of his largesse happens to be Mitt Romney, the emerging nemesis of the Texas governor in the GOP primary. Bob Perry and his wife gave a combined $5,000 to Romney's campaign earlier this year, and another $500,000 to the super PAC Restore Our Future that is supporting Romney's presidential bid, according to publicly-filed disclosure reports.
Bob Perry is the most important Republican funder in the country not named Koch. Bob the builder's pioneer work in exploiting loopholes in campaign finance laws brought us the Swift Boat Veterans ads against John Kerry in 2004. He also took full advantage of the Supreme Court's landmark Citizen's United decision in 2010 by funding American Crossroads, a conservative group founded by Karl Rove. Rick Perry's ability to tap into donors like Bob Perry has been one of his key selling points against the rise of Herman Cain and other conservative candidates thus far. If Bob Perry has indeed bailed on Rick Perry's campaign then the Texan's hopes for national office may be dead in the water.
Bob's absence on Rick's campaign rolls could also be inconsequential. The Make Us Great Again PAC supporting Rick Perry's campaign won't report its filings to the FEC until the end of January, after the Republican nomination contests will already be in full gear. Bob Perry's name may very well be among the supporters.