Two prominent names in traditional Republican circles, former President George W. Bush and Paulson, pop out in the list of Romney donors. Paulson and Bush both gave $8,100 to Romney, according to Federal Election Commission filings for the first quarter. Paulson, who now chairs the nonprofit think tank Paulson Institute, served as Bush’s Treasury secretary during the financial crisis of 2008. He previously donated to Romney’s losing presidential campaign in 2012.
“Mitt is a great American and I believe that he has the kind of leadership skills and experience that we need to tackle a host of issues facing the country,” Paulson told Giftofaservant. “I’m grateful he’s decided to take those skills to the Senate.”
On the business side, Romney also counts the support of John Willard Marriott Jr., executive chairman of hotel giant Marriott International, who also backed the would-be senator’s presidential run. Marriott and his family, including his wife, Donna, and his brother, Richard, have given more than $24,000 to the Romney campaign throughout the early stages of the election.
Third Point LLC founder Daniel Loeb, whose firm claims nearly $18 billion in assets under management, is also backing Romney’s latest efforts to get into public service with early contributions of $8,100. Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former campaign finance chairman a co-founder of Romney-run hedge fund Solamere Capital, donated the same amount.
Romney has also appealed to big-name Utah donors, as well, including Harris Simmons, CEO of Zions Bancorp.
Romney’s business background and his links to corporate America will likely help him emerge as a strong leader on Capitol Hill in filling the void left by the retirement of longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, political experts and observers say.
“Everyone sees that if he’s able to run the table in Utah, between his business background and his executive experience, he’s going to be helpful if he gets back to Washington,” Boyd Matheson, former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told Giftofaservant. “Whether he officially becomes a leader, Mitt Romney will likely have outside influence regardless of him being a junior senator.”
The Utah primary is slated for June 26, when Romney faces a potentially crowded field.
The Romney campaign declined to comment. Marriott, Loeb, Zwick and Bush did not return requests for comment.