Big-Money GOP Bundlers Stay on the Sidelines

| Mon Nov. 21, 2011 9:18 AM EST

Bundlers are a presidential candidate's best friend. They're the super-fundraisers who not only give thousands of their own money to political candidates, but also round up hundreds of thousands more from other deep-pocketed donors. The Republican Party's most dependable bundlers, 46 individuals in all, raised a total of $24 million for George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections and John McCain in 2008. But as iWatch News reports, almost half of those rainmakers from the last three elections are still on the sidelines for the 2012 presidential race.

Among the GOP bundlers who have backed a candidate, 16 of them are fundraising for Mitt Romney, the presumed frontrunner in the fight for his party's nomination. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has raked in cash from eight of the bundlers, and three have given to Jon Huntsman. But 22 GOP bundlers have yet to pick a candidate—and their reasons range from waiting until the nominee is chosen to concentrating their efforts on House and Senate races:

Munr Kazmir, chief executive officer of Direct Meds, a pharmacy company in New Jersey, said he had hoped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would enter the race. But when that didn’t happen, he was left without a favored candidate and has been pondering whom to back ever since.

"I'm still debating. I didn’t make a decision yet," he said. Kazmir said he has heard from dozens of other George W. Bush bundlers from the 2000 and 2004 elections and many, like him, have yet to commit to anyone for 2012. "They haven't decided yet," he said.

Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based private equity investor who backs Romney, said, "Many of the big bundlers I've spoken to have a familiarity with the major candidates. They all feel like the goal is to beat Obama and a number are waiting" until there is a nominee.

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"It's a game that requires a lot of energy and effort. It takes an enormous amount of time," said David F. Girard-diCarlo, a Philadelphia lawyer and super bundler, who is now supporting Huntsman.

While he's in his "seventh presidential go round," Girard-diCarlo, who served as ambassador to Austria near the end of Bush's second term, said some of his fundraising peers "may not be willing to expend the time and effort because of where they are in their lives."

The biggest recipient of bundler money, of course, is President Obama. So far in the 2012 election cycle, Obama's campaign has pulled in $56 million from 358 bunders that include Dreamworks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, Comcast executive David Cohen, and former New Jersey governor and financier Jon Corzine, whose brokerage firm MF Global recently went belly up.

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