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Wealthy Donors Funding the Republican Party Don't Get Along with GOP Base

by: Katie Singh

Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

As primary season gears up around the country, the wealthy corporations who fund much of the Republican party are starting to open their checkbooks to Republican candidates around the country. Yet, the base of voters these candidates need to appeal to is changing, and wealthy donors are struggling to keep up.

The GOP is often categorized as party of the rich, and while that's true at the top, the Republican base is becoming increasingly working class. And they are getting tired of Republican donors' elitist attitudes.

The Republican base has shifted over the past two decades as many working class white people have switched from Democrat to Republican. These voters now make up the Republicans' core constituency, people who are "heavily family based, more small-town and rural...very pro-gun, and very patriotic."

Though the voter base has changed, the party is still primarily funded by major corporations and individuals who make big donations to the candidates of their choice. Texas is no different. The Republican base is increasingly white and blue-collar, but big corporate donors are the ones giving money to Republican candidates. GOP candidates may have rhetoric that appeals to their base, but the substance behind their campaigns are grounded in corporate money and interests.

Read more about the corporate interests backing candidates like Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz after the jump.  

Texas Republicans, like most others across the country, are backed by wealthy individuals and corporate interests. Though GOP candidates have been careful not to make publicly elitist statements that could alienate the base, corporate interests are clearly the driving force behind many major Texas Republicans' campaigns.

Greg Abbott is one candidate who has been receiving major cash from wealthy, corporate donors. As we previously reported, billionaire and Houston Texans CEO Robert McNair has given nearly half a million dollars to elect Abbott.

In addition, the Texas petroleum industry has given almost $100,000 and counting to Abbott, as well additional cash to several other Republican candidates.

Though Senator Ted Cruz has adopted the populist rhetoric of the Tea Party to appeal to the Republican blue-collar base, he's actually deep in the pockets of many GOP corporate interests. For example, Cruz has received over $800,000 from the oil and gas industry. And for all his talk about fighting the Republican establishment, Cruz has received over a million dollars from them--in fact, they're the top donors to his campaigns.

It's no surprise that Ted Cruz has these kinds of ties. Though he talks about supporting the little guy, Cruz is a noted elitist who, in law school, refused to study with students who hadn't graduated from an Ivy League university.

Here in Texas, as in much of the country, the Republican Party is primarily backed by a group of wealthy donors who want to put their money to work politically. In contrast, most of the Republican base, whose votes candidates need to win, are not part of the 1%. For example, although self-identified Tea Partiers are slightly more educated and wealthy than the average American, a New York Times poll found that them majority still lack a college degree and make less than $100,000 a year--a far cry from the billionaires behind the Republican Party.

Despite the disconnect between the moneyed interests backing Texas Republicans and the working class Republican base, it's unlikely GOP candidates will lose their base's support in Texas anytime soon. Nonetheless, this disconnect is still very real, and it's important to recognize it. Given the financial foundation of today's GOP candidates, it should come as no surprise when Republican elected officials continually place corporate interests ahead of the needs of Texans--including their own base of voters who put them in office in the first place.

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