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Cruz’s Fundraising Strength: Network of Wealthy Donors

Ted_Cruz_Debate_2_2_jpg_312x1000_q100Wealthy investors shot skeet with Sen. Ted Cruz in Park City, Utah, earlier this month. Conservative lawyers gathered in a clubby Washington restaurant last week to raise money for his presidential bid. And on Monday, billionaire technology entrepreneur Darwin Deason and five other wealthy Texans announced that they were coming aboard his campaign.

For all his bashing of “billionaire Republican donors” who “actively despise our base,” the anti-establishment senator from Texas is being bolstered by his own robust base of wealthy contributors. Cruz raised $5.2 million through the end of September from supporters who gave him the $2,700 maximum — making him No. 2 in the GOP race for large donors, after former Florida governor Jeb Bush, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.

Cruz’s un­or­tho­dox campaign has hit on a fundraising formula that no other candidate has been able to match: raising millions from a robust base of grass-roots supporters while building a substantial network of rich backers.

The senator’s quiet fundraising prowess — he has collected $26.5 million to date — could help give him staying power in what is sure to be a hard-fought battle for the GOP nomination. The structure of his donor base closely resembles that of President Obama, whose vaunted fundraising operation intensely focused on low-dollar givers as well as major bundlers, bringing in a record $783 million for his 2012 reelection.

Cruz has had trouble making inroads in New York financial circles or on Florida’s donor-rich Gold Coast. But he is finding support among like-minded constitutionalists, religious conservatives, and oil and gas executives, campaign finance filings and fundraising invitations show.

“A lot of Wall Street is out of touch with mainstream America,” Cruz’s wife, Heidi — who is on leave from her job as a managing director at Goldman Sachs and is one of his most prolific fundraisers — said recently. “That’s not our funding base.”

The senator is a different person in private fundraisers than out on the campaign trail, according to people who have observed the dynamic. He doesn’t back away from his hard-line positions, but he quickly moves past them, trying to present a restrained, Harvard-educated lawyer.

“People are swayed by his intellect,” said Mica Mosbacher, a Houston fundraiser helping organize events for Cruz across the country. “He always says, ‘Ask me all the hard questions.’ And he is very polite and humble. I think the firebrand you see [in public] is his passion getting ahead of him. Those who are supporting him admire that he will stand up for what’s right.”

A Republican strategist well connected to the donor world added: “When he’s with major donors, they expect the guy they see with all the red meat, but they instead see an intelligent but toned-down lawyer with real bona fides. He will say things like, basically, ‘This is politics — you’ve got go out there and sell and perform.’ ”

At a recent fundraiser in New York, Cruz made the case that he is the candidate to unite a fractious Republican Party, arguing that he can energize evangelicals, tea partyers, military hawks and fiscal conservatives.

“His feeling — and I agree with him — is that you cannot make one segment love you and another segment hate you,” said venture capitalist Ken Abramowitz, who hosted the gathering. “He stressed that he would appeal to all the segments but still maintain his message.”

Shmuley Boteach, a New Jersey rabbi and former congressional candidate, has been introducing Cruz to members of the Jewish community in New York and Los Angeles. Boteach said Cruz is diplomatic when it comes to hot-button issues — such as the time Boteach told the senator he has a gay brother and doesn’t think he should speak so stridently against same-sex marriage.

“He’ll respond very respectfully and say, ‘Okay, Shmuley, we respectfully disagree,’ ” Boteach said. “I do not find him dogmatic about it. . . . When you get to know the guy, he’s measured. This is a Princeton, Harvard graduate.”

It’s a different scene on the campaign trail, where Cruz’s fiery jabs have helped him amass a large pool of enthusiastic small donors. By the end of September, he had raised the second-largest amount in low-dollar contributions among the GOP field: $9.9 million to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s $18.2 million.

Overall, Cruz has the most balanced mix of donors among all the Republican hopefuls. Of the $24.5 million he has raised for the primary race, 40 percent has come from contributors who have given him $200 or less, 25 percent from those who have given $201 to $999, 13 percent from those who have given $1,000 to $2,699, and 21 percent from those who have given the $2,700 maximum, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.

Obama, by comparison, raised 28 percent of his 2012 donations from people who gave $200 or less and 22 percent from max-out donors.

It remains to be seen whether Cruz, who is hovering around 8 percent in national polls, will gain enough momentum to scale donations up as dramatically as Obama did in his campaigns.

Cruz has long said that his successful 2012 Senate run (and now his presidential bid) attempted to emulate Obama’s 2008 election tactics. Cruz gave Senate campaign staffers a copy of “The Audacity to Win,” a book written by Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe.

“When it comes to fundraising, I think one of the greatest surprises, from the perspective of the Washington chattering class, has been the incredible, astonishing fundraising that this campaign has benefited from,” Cruz said Monday in Houston, where he announced that six wealthy supporters of former Texas governor Rick Perry are now backing him.

Among them were Deason, who gave $5 million to a pro-Perry super PAC in June, and Dallas tax consultant G. Brint Ryan, who donated $250,000. Such high-capacity supporters could inject huge sums into a group of super PACs supporting Cruz, which reported raising $38 million by the end of June.

Campaign finance filings show that more than half of Cruz’s max-out donations are coming from his home state, Texas, where he is methodically bringing longtime backers of Perry and the Bush family into his fundraising network.

Houston real estate developer Welcome Wilson Sr. was supporting Perry until he dropped out of the race. He has close ties to the Bush family — his son Welcome Wilson Jr. went to school with Jeb Bush — but said he was convinced that the senator from Texas could best capture the imagination of the voters now considering Donald Trump.

“Their support comes from the same type of people — the people who want a change,” Wilson said.

Mosbacher, whose late husband, Robert Mosbacher, served as commerce secretary under George H.W. Bush, considers herself more of an “establishment type.” She decided to back Cruz because she is convinced that he can win.

Cruz’s wife, Heidi, has also been a key asset, said Mosbacher, pinch-hitting at fundraisers when her husband gets stuck in Washington. At one recent breakfast in Houston, she was so effective that she won over attendees who had not yet committed to the campaign.

“I was very surprised who wrote checks,” Mosbacher said. “They weren’t sure about Ted Cruz until they met Heidi.”

Heidi Cruz has said she made 600 fundraising calls in the second quarter, typically reaching 20 to 25 people a day.

“I don’t want to say it’s easy, and I don’t close every deal,” she said last month. “I think people want to be a part of something that addresses the main issue of the day, number one, which is Washington versus the people.”

She has even been reaching out to bundlers who are already backing other candidates. Andrew Sabin, a Jeb Bush supporter who has had the Cruz family to his Long Island home and supported Cruz’s Senate campaign, said she gave him a call this month.

“I love his wife,” Sabin said — but he told Heidi Cruz that he is “100 percent” with Bush.

Others are coming over. Chart Westcott, a Dallas biotech investor, switched his allegiance to Cruz after his first choice, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, dropped out of the race.

Westcott, who supported Cruz’s Senate bid, said he was pleased to hear the granular details of how Cruz’s team is playing the long game and placing a “laserlike” focus on amassing delegates, a pitch that campaign officials also made at the recent donor retreat in Park City.

Westcott is also impressed by Cruz’s ability to draw in both large- and small-dollar donors.

“I think when you look at the financial shape of all the campaigns,” Westcott said, “Cruz has proven himself to be a powerhouse on both sides of the ledger.”

Racing Forward book launch – Austin Way

Lisa_O_Neill,_Geoffrey_S_Connor,_Mica_Mosbacher_and_Sabrina_BrownMica Mosbacher does not like the word “widow.” “We remind people of mortality,” she told friends and fans on November 16th as they gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel to celebrate the launch of her new book Racing Forward. The honest and revealing memoir tells her story of going from being a single mother in Houston to marrying the love of her life in her 40s, oilman and 28th U.S. Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010. The day was full of celebration and admiration for a life lived of courage and a book that tells that story so eloquently. Check out the story

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Mica Mosbacher on

RACING FORWARD BY MICA MOSBACHER is the personal, inspirational history of Mica Mosbacher, the widow of former Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, Sr. With their marriage abbreviated by death, Mica was on her own, suffering a very personal loss while recognizing the very real need to reinvent herself.

That reinvention steered her to Ferrari racing. And while buying or leasing a competition Ferrari won’t be everyone’s path, a car or racing enthusiast will find a worthwhile perspective, while life enthusiasts can benefit from Mosbacher’s very personal recollection. Photos skew toward trophy wife than racing trophies (although the cover photo features Mosbacher suited for the starting line), but that – we’ll guess – is what happens when marrying the well connected. Published by Bright Sky Press, the Mosbacher memoir is $24.95. 

A Lucky ZestNow Member will win this

Mica Mosbacher was barely hanging on. A single mother of a son, she worked in retail while she established a career as an award-winning writer. Feeling unlucky in romance after two failed marriages, she gave up on her dreams. In her early 40s, she met the love of her life, oilman mogul and 28th US Secretary of Commerce, Robert Mosbacher Sr. A modern day commoner who went on to meet and entertain heads of states and Royals, Mica turned out to be a kind of Houston Cinderella.Mica married her prince and soul mate only to lose him to pancreatic cancer leaving her heart broken. But instead of wallowing in pain, she decided to grieve forward. Her brother, a racecar driver, inspired her to learn to race a Ferrari. Testing her personal limits on the racetrack, she discovered her inner strength to move forward.Life brings losses on a regular basis. Whether it’s a garden variety loss or a life changing one―debilitating illness, divorce, death―it requires a resiliancy, optimism and faith..


See Racing Forward on for more information.

Houston’s Mica Mosbacher: Writing life in the fast lane

In her early forties, Mica Mosbacher married Robert Mosbacher, Sr., the man she describes as her prince and soul mate — only to lose him to pancreatic cancer, leaving her heart broken. But instead of wallowing in pain, she decided to “grieve forward.” Her brother, a race car driver, inspired her to learn to race a Ferrari. Testing her personal limits on the racetrack, she discovered her inner strength to move forward. In today’s Lone Star Listens she shares her story.


Author photo by Korey Howell

 What an amazing life you have led, Mica — being front and center with some of the most powerful people in the world. How did you and your late husband meet?

 Bob and I met at the Bayou Club in Houston, where I was co-hosting a work-related event for Louis Vuitton (I had been laid off from my job at Oppenheimer & Co. And was a single mom who needed a job). The event was in celebration of the Louis Vuitton Cup that coincides with the America’s Cup — the worldwide premier sailing event. Bob was a two-time world champion sailor. His brother Bus was a two-time winner of the America’s Cup. Our guest speaker was Olympic sailor Buddy Melges, who was a friend of Bob’s. We spoke on the phone. He asked me to invite Bob. So out of bad luck, I went on to meet the love of my life. Serendipity I believe.

Were you interested in politics when you met Robert, or did your interest

in politics grow as your marriage grew?

 I was always a political junkie. During junior high in Memphis, I helped a friend’s mom who was precinct chair erect signs for Howard Baker, who was running for the Senate. In high school, I was active in Young Republicans and served on the Student Council.

 Later, I worked for the Senate Education Committee at the Texas state capitol while at UT. In 1985, I joined Southern Political Consulting and then went on to serve as a volunteer press agent in the advance office for George H. W. Bush, who was running for president. I was active in the RNC Regents and had been invited to the White House to meet Nancy Reagan. Politics was in my blood.

 When your husband passed away, it seems as though you threw yourself into a variety of interests, including race car driving. How did that come about?

 When Bob died of pancreatic cancer right after Christmas 2010, I was paralyzed with grief. As he had been ill for some time, I had been going through a kind of chronic grieving. I had been seeing a grief counselor at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he was treated. She was trying to help me prepare for life as the sole survivor. We discussed being proactive about envisioning a future without Bob. My days were consumed with caretaking, and I had put my life on hold.

I knew that a thing in motion stays in motion and had told other friends going through loss not to get stuck in the mud. I am very spiritual, and my favorite expression is “God can’t steer a parked car.” You have to propel yourself forward. I call it Grieving Forward. That’s so important because you need something to race toward.

In my case, two gifts came my way. Out of the blue, I received a letter from the Foreign Ministry of Iceland asking if I would be interested in representing Iceland as an Honorary Consul. I would. Secondly, my brother, John McCutchen, was resuming his motorsports racing career and had started a team, Godstone Ranch MS, a 501c)(3) that was racing for awareness of heart disease.

I was consumed. I became hooked. I felt alive. A passion was born. I went on to join the family racing team that races for charity known as Godstone Ranch Motorsports.

What inspired you to write Racing Forward?

I wrote Racing Forward to pay tribute to the love of my life and the love we shared. I also wanted to help others who were going through loss. I literally feel like I undressed in public — my life is now an open book. I wanted to be authentic and transparent so that others did not feel like “the lone ranger.” There are no hard and fast rules on how to grieve, and people often say all the wrong things.

How would you describe Racing Forward to our readers who may not be

familiar with the book?

Racing Forward chronicles the struggles and changes in my life’s journey and how I have reacted and coped with change. We all confront change on a daily basis, and with every change — be it a breakup, a disappointment, a disability, an illness, job loss, or a death — it’s how we choose to react to loss that defines our character. Once you are catapulted out of your comfort zone and the nest you feather for yourself, unexpected gifts come your way. In my case, a layoff led to meeting my soul mate. The book is a memoir and a journey of self-discovery. I learned to test my personal limits in many ways, including on a racetrack. I also realized how precious life is and to make the most of it. Don’t put off something you always wanted to do.

Have you always written? What’s your writing process like? Might you

write future books?

I have always written. As a child, I wrote stories and plays to entertain my friends — often using them as characters. For me it is like breathing. I studied journalism at UT. I am a night owl and write at night when it’s quiet. When I restarted my writing freelance career as a single mom, I needed to work during the day, so the only quiet time I could write was when Cameron was in bed. I did not own a laptop at the time and frequently went to a Kinkos to tap out my hand-written manuscript. I usually start with a theme and then do a broad outline first. To avoid freezing, I then just write the first sentence and let the verbiage spill out in free form.

Might I write future books? Yes — and they will be a continuation of the racing theme but focused on living life to the fullest with survivor stories.

Godstone Ranch is doing amazing work using motorsports. Would you tell our readers how that came about and what you do there?

My brother John and sister-in-law Karen Garrett started Godstone Ranch MS as the first motorsports charity in Texas in Grand Am. The concept is to use one’s God-given talents in service as a team to help a charity. They chose heart disease, as Karen’s father had lost his life to a heart attack and John’s and my dad had been a physician with the Texas Heart Institute. They raced the first year to raise money and awareness for that institute. In the process they met a young heart transplant recipient, Ally Smith Babineaux, who is now a team member. When I became involved, I pitched the team to the American Heart Association. We eventually became a booster for the AHA Hands Only CPR campaign. We are 100 percent funded by money we raise. I am a sponsor, a strategist, and a member of the pit crew, which is mostly female. Ally, by the way, received her second heart transplant a year ago and is the fire girl. I am learning to race but am not licensed and am not a competitor, but I’m no longer afraid of speed, especially if  I’m in the driver’s seat (really, a metaphor for our drive in life.)

You are  the Consulate General of Iceland in Houston and Central Texas. Share with our readers what that means.

An honorary consul is nominated by a foreign country and the vetted and accredited by the U.S. Department of State. While my responsibilities are very similar to those of a career consul (dealing with lost passports, marriage licenses etc.), I am not paid. My office has administrative duties such as extending passports and helping Icelandic citizens in crisis. More importantly, I am involved as a representative for trade and cultural advancement and help connect Icelandic businesses with appropriate counterparts in the U.S.

If there was one piece of advice from Racing Forward that you could give to someone going through a hard time right now, what would it be?

Do not allow yourself to wallow in your pain. That means propelling yourself out of bed and going through the motions. The minute you isolate yourself and give in to the undertow of powerful emotions, you will get stuck in the mud. You then become roadkill. I still have good and bad days, but I find joy in each day even if it’s practicing gratitude for having my eyesight and four limbs. Exercise helps, and connecting with other people. Counseling or a grief support group is very important. The main piece of advice is to stay connected. Other people have been through hard times too and are willing to help and advise. It means staying positive and avoiding negativity. My grandmother always said that problems have solutions, and it’s blackest before dawn. This too will pass, and unexpected gifts will come your way. Be open to change. Embrace it and transcend it.

I also find that volunteering helps you come out of yourself. There is someone always worse off than you are. If you have suffered a layoff, for example, don’t be afraid to take a menial job. There is dignity in work. Volunteer at a charity one day a week. You might make an important connection. At the very least, you can make new friends and get out of your rut. I have been blessed with so many new friends as an unexpected gift of making connections through Joss. Find time to exercise. I took lots of long walks. It all helps.

As a Texas author, you probably like to read Texas books as well. Who are some of your favorite Texas authors?

Sandra Brown is my favorite Texas author. I like true crime and thriller, and presently I’m reading her new book, Mean Streak.

UT alumna pens memoir on life in the fast lane

2015-11-16_Mica_Mosbacher_Mike.McGraw070Mica Mosbacher is the author of “Racing For- ward,” a book describing her journey from journalism to race car driving.
Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Just days after the burial of her husband, UT alumna Mica Mosbacher stood in the pits at the racetrack in Daytona wondering what was next. The loss of Robert “Bob” Mosbacher, a former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, oilman and the love of her life, weighed heavily on her mind.

Nevertheless, she had accepted an invitation from her brother, race car driver John McCutchen, to attend one of his races. As the engines began to roar around her, Mosbacher knew she was hooked.

“I felt my adrenaline kick in, and I just came alive,” Mosbacher said. “Next thing I know, I’m on the block, and I’m asking all sorts of technical questions. I was just completely consumed.”

An award-winning journalist, philanthropist, member of the board of directors for several organizations and Honorary Consul General of Iceland, Mosbacher is now working toward a new passion: racing Ferraris. Her book, “Racing Forward,” which was released in October, details her journey from building a journalism career as a single mother to embarking upon a whirlwind lifestyle with her husband, only to face the challenge of redefining her life after his death.

“Loss is what we have to contend with almost on a daily basis, and it’s important to learn how to embrace change,” Mosbacher said. “So that’s what occurred to me: I’m not in my comfort zone anymore, so I need to do something different in my life. I need to have something to race toward to propel myself out of bed.”

In her book, Mosbacher also writes openly about her experience overcoming sexual assault. Mosbacher was sexually assaulted in London during a trip as a college student and said she decided to be open about her experience when former Texas First Lady Anita Perry asked her to help raise funds for Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

“I realized it was a topic that if I was open about it and I had survived and I was okay, it might help other women,” Mosbacher said. “Since then, I’ve had a lot of women talk to me about it and fathers and men.”

By the time she met Bob, Mosbacher had gone through two failed marriages and a sudden layoff. A single mom in her 40s, Mosbacher spent her days working at Saks Fifth Avenue and her evenings developing story ideas, eventually making a living as an independent journalist. When she met Bob at a sailing event, her life took another unexpected turn.

She put her writing career on hold and became heavily involved in politics and charity, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and top political figures. Mosbacher said she always planned to return to writing and began  to put her thoughts on paper in the wake of her
husband’s death.

“At first I thought it was reading like a novel,” said Cristina Adams, the book’s editor. “My initial reaction was, ‘Seriously? There’s no way.’ But she had her own story to tell, and that’s what I thought was even more interesting.”

Soon after Bob’s death in 2010, Mica texted a picture of a Ferrari to her brother, a longtime driver and the founder of charity racing team Godstone Ranch Motorsports.

“She said, ‘What kind of car is this? This is the most fantastic car I’ve ever seen,’” McCutchen said. “I said, ‘Look, I have never in my life heard you excited about any automobile. I think you ought to go to the Ferrari dealership and buy it.’ And she did.”

At the time, Mosbacher’s personal car was 10 years old, and she was afraid of driving fast. She began to test out the Ferrari on the track, eventually gunning the engine to 160 miles per hour. She is now taking classes to compete in sanctioned races.

“It gave me a new purpose in life,” Mosbacher said. “Life goes by so quickly. Don’t get so consumed in your everyday career and your life that you don’t do anything that you’ve always wanted to do.”

With plans to continue racing, participating in charity and perhaps learn a new instrument, Mosbacher said she does not anticipate slowing down.

“I have decided that my life will always be controlled chaos,” Mosbacher said “I feel an obligation to give back and help other people.”


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