Now that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has emerged as the top contender against Mitt Romney, he is turning to Washington’s lobbying community for support and financial contributions, Politico reports. After Gingrich’s campaign imploded during the summer, most of K Street ignored the former House speaker — until now.
As of Sept. 30, Gingrich had raised just $105,000 from donors in the Washington, D.C., area, compared with $1.3 million for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On Wednesday, Gingrich begins his full-court press of the Washington lobbying crowd with a $1,000 a plate fundraiser at a fancy Washington restaurant, the Occidental Grill and Seafood.
Gingrich has some advantages over his rivals in wooing K Street. Although Gingrich bills himself as a reformer, his years in Congress and afterward as an advocate in the nation’s capital for others give him a deep network among power brokers.
For example, former Reps. Robert Livingston, R-La., and Robert Walker, R-Pa., both successful lobbyists, are on the host committee for the Wednesday fundraiser.
Gingrich can bring a long roster of heavyweights to his side, says Dan Crowley, Gingrich’s top lawyer when he was speaker who is now a lobbyist for K&L Gates. “Newt World was extensive, and most of those people are still around, and some are just starting to appreciate that his campaign is viable,” Crowley told Politico. “They all have their own political pedigree and are activists in their own right, and what is emerging as a result is a truly organic political organization.”
Gingrich’s campaign now has the credibility to attract big-ticket donations. “Lobbyists are no different than big donors out in the states. They want to give to somebody who is seen as bringing some viability,” a veteran GOP fundraiser told Politico.
Ken Kies, a heavyweight tax lobbyist who donated to Gingrich this spring, sees it the same way. “K Street is predictable,” he told Politico. “It is full of people who see a parade and love to jump in front. Newt is the parade. The guys who signed on with Perry now realize they bought an Edsel, and the guys with Romney now see he can’t get above 25 percent.”
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the campaign is starting to focus more on big money events. “What we’re seeing now is the addition of the $2,500- or $5,000-a-couple donations,” he told Politico. “We’ve been doing more and more reception-style, sponsored-by-a-host committee events.”
Some lobbyists who raised money and support for Perry told Politico they may shift to Gingrich.
“Perry remains my first choice, but I don’t see much activity. I see little chance he makes the shootout. Newt is my fallback,” one of them said. “Many of my friends in the evangelical movement began moving from Perry to Newt and Cain to Newt a few weeks ago.”
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