WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jimmy Tosh, who runs a multi-million dollar pig and grain farm in Tennessee, is a longtime Republican. He favors guns, supports tax cuts, and agrees with most of Republican President Donald Trump’s agendas.
He is also spending his money to help defeat Trump in the November election.
“I agree with 80% of what he does; I just can’t stand a liar, ”Tosh, 70, said of Trump.
Tosh is among a growing number of wealthy conservative Americans who say Trump is a threat to democracy and the long-term health of the Republican Party. They are actively supporting his Democratic opponent in the November 3 vote, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Several billionaire and millionaire donors to the Lincoln Project, the largest of the Republican-backed groups opposing Trump’s re-election, told Reuters elected Republicans should also be punished for allowing it. Some even support the ousting of vulnerable Republican senators to hand control of the chamber to Democrats.
Their money fueled an unprecedented campaign by members of a sitting president’s own party to oust him from office. It’s a sign that Trump has alienated some Republicans, most recently with his response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality against black Americans.
The ultimate impact of these actions remains to be seen in a country so deeply polarized. “Never Trump” Republicans failed to stop his rise in 2016 and became marginal figures as Trump came to dominate the party during his presidency. But this year could be different, some strategists from both sides said.
“The distinction in 2020 that we didn’t see in 2016 is the amount of money that supports their efforts and their size,” said Karen Finney, Democratic strategist and spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“The number of people willing to go public with Trump and put a lot of money behind him to beat him – I don’t think we’ve seen an effort of this magnitude. “
Besides Project Lincoln, several Republican-backed groups have been formed in recent months to support Biden, including 43 alumni for Biden, a super PAC involving hundreds of officials who served in the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. , and a coalition of former Republicans. security officials.
Others are skeptical, noting that Trump denounces and spends the Never Trump groups hugely and still enjoys nearly 90% support among Republicans. In June alone, Trump’s campaign raised $ 55.2 million, compared to the $ 20 million Project Lincoln has raised since its inception in December.
Still, in a close election, even peeling a chunk of hesitant Republicans and some independents could make a difference, analysts said.
Tosh, who donated $ 11,000 to Project Lincoln after seeing one of their ads attack Trump, said he could donate to other Republican-led groups as well.
“I made the decision not to support a Republican candidate in the election until Trump left,” he said.
Other major individual donors to Project Lincoln include Christy Walton, the Walmart heiress who has primarily given to Democratic candidates in recent years; hedge fund billionaire Andy Redleaf, who sits on the visitors’ council of the conservative Federalist Society; and Sidney Jansma Jr., an executive in Michigan’s oil and gas industry and a frequent contributor to Republican candidates and causes.
Project Lincoln ads attacked Trump for his response to economic and health crises and racial tensions, targeting hesitant Trump voters and independents.
Democratic ad creator Jimmy Siegel, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign, said some of the spots, viewed by millions of people, could be persuasive to “waver” Republicans on the fence.
Erin Perrine, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, said of anti-Trump groups: “It is the swamp – again – that is trying to topple the duly elected President of the United States. She said Trump’s level of support among Republicans was “something any former president of any party could only dream of.”
“REPUBLICS MUST BE PUNISHED”
It’s not just conservatives giving to Republican anti-Trump groups. Project Lincoln, for example, is also receiving large sums of money from wealthy Democrats, according to filings from the Federal Election Commission. His biggest donation in June was $ 1 million from hedge fund manager Stephen Mandel, a prolific Democratic donor.
Reed Galin, one of the founders of the group that worked for Bush and the late Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, said Trump’s bullying policy was “not good for the party, and it’s also bad. for the country ”.
Redleaf, founder of Minnesota-based hedge fund Whitebox Advisors, said Biden would be the first Democratic presidential candidate he voted for.
Readleaf, who calls himself a “conservative libertarian,” donated $ 35,000 to the Lincoln Project. He said he agreed with the group’s desire to also target Republican senators facing tough re-election battles in November.
Tosh said he had “mixed emotions”.
“I’ve been a Republican my whole life and I want to stay a Republican – but the Republican Party has to change after what it has done for the past three years. ”
(Reporting by Tim Reid, additional reporting by Elizabeth Culliford, editing by Soyoung Kim and Cynthia Osterman)
Video: Eric Trump reacts to Biden joining forces with Obama to disparage the president (FOX News)