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For D.C. lawyers and lobbyists, the calls started coming in shortly after the midterm elections in November. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney had yet to formally enter the presidential race, but their political operatives were already trying to secure support from these Pioneers and Rangers — the cash machines who had raised six-figure amounts for President George W. Bush’s previous campaigns. One of those contacted was Lanny Griffith of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, who had lined up more than $200,000 for Bush in 2004. “It’s the nature of most people in our profession that they would be trying to get involved and get involved early,” says Griffith, adding that more than one campaign asked for his help. Griffith held out until December, which he says was “pretty late” in the game, before throwing his support behind former New York City Mayor Giuliani. As the first quarter fund-raising results demonstrated, the 2008 presidential money race remains up for grabs — and so are many of Bush’s top donors — in a Republican race that could go down to the wire. So far, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, who out-raised long-favored Sen. McCain of Arizona, has had the most success — securing the support of almost 100 Rangers and Pioneers. “I was encouraged early on when I called people in Georgia,” says Eric Tanenblatt, head of McKenna Long & Aldridge’s public policy practice and a member of Romney’s national finance committee. “There are a number of other Rangers and Pioneers for the president in our state that are on board with the Romney team.” With the presidential election 17 months away, it’s not just Bush’s network of about 550 six-figure fund-raisers who are being targeted. The campaigns have also set their sights on “deputy pioneers,” the people who helped bundle money for Pioneers and Rangers in the 2004 election. This time around, the campaigns want to graduate these smaller fund-raisers to the next level. Each of the leading Republican candidates has also taken a page from Bush’s playbook, signing up young professionals as a way to rejuvenate the fund-raising arm and quickly deploy volunteer ranks as the election draws closer. While many lobbyists and lawyers in town have already lined up behind specific candidates — Griffith for Giuliani, former Rep. Tom Loeffler of Texas for McCain, and Ronald Kaufman for Romney — there are still some Bush loyalists who have yet to commit. Lobbyist Jack Oliver, former Bush-Cheney ’04 deputy finance chairman, is one. Others, like energy lawyer James Langdon Jr., a major Bush fund-raiser and partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, are staying out of this campaign season. Convincing the remaining undecided Bush Pioneers and Rangers to commit could mean the difference for the campaigns’ fund-raising performances in the second quarter, which ends June 30. And, with former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson expected to announce his intent to run, the pool of undecided Pioneers and Rangers will likely continue to shrink. RECRUITING LOYAL BUSHIES With a crowded field of GOP contenders, the campaigns have raced to secure those who know how to raise large amounts of money. McCain tapped Loeffler, now a lobbyist, to convince loyal Bushies to sign on. “Loeffler, who is our [finance] chairman, has made an enormous and very successful effort to recruit the highly capable fund-raisers from Washington,” says Wayne Berman, managing director of Ogilvy Government Relations and vice chairman of McCain’s campaign. Berman, who also made calls to recruit fund-raisers, points to McCain’s long tenure in Washington and Loeffler’s deep contacts in the legal and lobbying community as a reason for the campaign’s ability to attract donors, including 57 Rangers and Pioneers, so far. But, that didn’t help his lackluster first-quarter fund-raising effort. Since then, the campaign has retooled its in-house staff and put McCain on a much more rigorous fund-raising schedule to at least match his first-quarter performance. Romney has relied on lobbyists like Alberto Cardenas of Tew Cardenas to work their contacts with Pioneers and Rangers on his behalf. “I spent a lot of time and effort in recruiting Bush Rangers and Pioneers, and I think we’ve done our job in Florida,” says Cardenas, co-chairman of Romney’s Florida fund-raising team. He estimated that almost 30 of the team of state co-chairs were Bush Pioneers and Rangers. The campaigns have also looked to build up their stable of high-end donors and combat donor fatigue, important in a campaign that could go the distance. “I’m not as active today when I’m 50 as when I was 30 — no question,” Berman says about raising money. He adds that the current campaign will be dependent on younger fund-raisers taking more of a leadership role. “There’s much more of an effort because there are more people to organize, and they are better known now having been through a couple of cycles as the deputies and helpers.” The next generation has to replace people like Akin Gump’s Langdon, who says he was only in the fund-raising game because of close ties with the Bush family. Bush Pioneer Kirk Blalock of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock is heading up McCain’s efforts to target younger donors. Modeled after Bush’s Maverick program, Blalock is looking to raise $5 million before the primaries with almost 100 people who have pledged to raise at least $50,000. Romney is using a similar tactic. Alexander Annett of Patton Boggs and Drew Maloney of Ogilvy Government Relations head a group 100 young professionals, each pledging to raise at least $2,300 before the primaries. “Everybody caught onto this thing as an untapped market,” says Annett, who was part of the original young professional drive for Bush’s 2000 campaign. “It’s a good resource financially, but it’s more building this strategic army of volunteers as well.” Despite the push, campaigns may struggle to lure those remaining big-time donors until a clear front-runner emerges. “I don’t think anybody believes there’s a magic bullet that somebody who already isn’t there is not going to take the nomination or people are holding off for a better candidate,” says Michael Govan, a consultant who has committed to raise several hundred thousand dollars for Giuliani. “Any Pioneer or Ranger that hasn’t committed is waiting to see who breaks ahead in the pack and then they are going to go with the winner.”
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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