Monday could be the make-or-break day for some of the Democratic presidential candidates with success - or failure - in raising campaign cash in many ways determining their future viability in Campaign 2004. Without a clear frontrunner, the money game has been become the new way of handicapping the campaigns.
President Bush's jaw-dropping figures and Howard Dean's success on the Internet are two of the more interesting stories to emerge so far. But, behind each candidate is a strategy and a person leading the money chase. Often these folks operate out of the spotlight. They are well known behind closed doors but are rarely (if they do their jobs right) household names.
Here are some of the more interesting rainmakers of the leading presidential campaigns.
President Bush: The man at the top with perhaps the easiest job in politics this cycle – essentially counting the presumably endless heaps of checks that are rolling into the Bush headquarters – is Cincinnati businessman Mercer Reynolds III.
Reynolds. 57, is an old Bush pal – he worked with him in the oil business and brought him into the partnership that bought the Texas Rangers. Along with his business partner, William DeWitt, Reynolds was the most successful of the so-called "Pioneer" fundraisers in the 2000 Bush campaign, raising more than $600,000 between them.
Bush appointed Reynolds ambassador to Switzerland, a post he served in until early this year. Also on Bush's check-cashing team is Jack Oliver, one of the masterminds behind Bush's 2000 campaign fundraising juggernaut, who will be the campaign's day-to-day financial chief. Oliver - a Missourian, former John Ashcroft aide and Karl Rover protégé – was deputy national chairman of the RNC from 2001 until recently, when he joined the campaign full-time as Reynolds' deputy.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean: Steve Grossman, 56, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and unsuccessful 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, is chairman of Dean's finance team. Grossman, former president of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, signed-on with Dean very early, and having the former party chairman lent credibility to his then-fledgling campaign.
Dean's real fundraising chairman, however, is probably whoever invented the Internet, not to mention the owners of www.meetup.com. Dean's techie staff, including Zephyr Teachout, have been making web connections payoff. Dean's campaign was the first to reach the $1 million threshold in funds raised on the Web, and that was more than a month ago. Dean will be well over $2 million in Web funds in Monday's filing. Aides say Dean even had a one-day online take last Friday of over $500,000.
Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.: Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron, 57, is Edwards' finance co-chairman. Baron, a personal injury lawyer who's made a fortune in asbestos cases, is former chairman of the American Association of Trial Lawyers – whose members were the source of almost half of Edwards' $7.4 million haul in the first quarter.
Baron's firm, Baron & Budd, gave Edwards $56,000 – second only to Goldman Sachs in contributions. Scott Darling, who helped Virginia Gov. Mark Warner raise a record-setting $20 million for his successful 2001 campaign, worked for Edwards' political action committee before joining the campaign. He and Brian Screnar, another New American Optimists veteran, are co-national chairmen.
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.: Gephardt's national finance chairman is Richard Sullivan, 39, a North Carolina lawyer and former DNC fund-raising wunderkind. Sullivan, still one of the party's top fundraisers who helped Gephardt raise money for his political action committee that doled out millions to congressional candidates in the last several cycles, worked for Gephardt as deputy scheduler in his failed 1988 campaign.
Under pressure from President Clinton, Sullivan, who was tapped to be the DNC finance director in 1995, hired John Huang, the man raised a considerable amount of illegal foreign contributions.
Sullivan and Huang were both involved in the infamous 1996 Buddhist temple fundraiser that then-Vice President Al Gore attended. Sullivan, who was never charged with any crime in the Clinton fundraising scandals, was reportedly pressured by Clinton to hire Huang despite his own reservations.
Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla.: In mid-June, Graham tapped Marvin Rosen, 62, a Florida lawyer, as his national finance chairman. Rosen is one of Florida's most powerful Democratic fundraisers, and worked for the presidential campaigns of Bob Kerrey, Gary Hart, Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
Rosen, like Richard Sullivan, also was involved in fundraising for Clinton in 1996, serving as the DNC's finance chairman in 1995 and part of 1996. Rosen helped plan the infamous White House coffees with big donors. Rosen denies any wrongdoing in the Clinton fundraising fiascos, although he admits that the party did make some mistakes.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.: Robert Farmer, 64, Clinton's 1992 treasurer and a longtime Kerry financial backer, is running Kerry's fundraising operation.
Farmer, the openly gay Clinton administration ambassador to Bermuda who splits his time between Boston and Miami Beach, worked for John Glenn in '84, was Mike Dukakis' chief fundraiser in '88 and DNC treasurer after that.
Longtime Kerry fundraiser Peter Maroney, who used to work for former Rep. Joseph Kennedy, is working with Farmer. Maroney was finance director for Kerry's PAC from 1999 until the presidential campaign officially started. Of course, the big question persists: Could John Kerry's real money person be his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry?
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.: Shari Yost, 33, the only woman among the top candidates' finance directors, was brought on-board in February. Yost, a top lobbyist for Cablevisions Systems Corp. when Lieberman tapped her, was finance director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee when Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was chairman.