Key supporters propping up Jeb Bush's Right to Rise super political action committee are looking for someone to blame for his sinking poll numbers, and are turning their attention to PAC leader Mike Murphy, blaming his strategies for tanking the former Florida governor's campaign.
"It looks like they're blowing the whole thing up, like even if Jeb can't win, they're not going to let anyone else win either," a backer who worked on Bush's gubernatorial campaigns and in his administration told Politico.
"You might as well light all of this money on fire. Most of all, they're hurting the reputation of a really great man."
The donors say the PAC is not only throwing money away on gimmicks and drives to seek donors for states not yet important in the race, and blamed it for destroying the Bush family brand itself.
Nearly all of the two dozen Right to Rise and Bush supporters interviewed blamed Murphy for the PAC's failed strategy, and even advisers say the $40 million already spent on positive ads for Bush have not brought any results.
They also complain that the PAC neglected New Hampshire in the fall, which allowed Ohio Gov. John Kasich to gain power in New Hampshire, a vital early voting state.
Further, they say the PAC did little to fight against Donald Trump and his characterization of Bush as "low energy," a claim that has put a stranglehold on the former Florida governor's campaign.
The group started out strong, including raising a massive $103 million this summer
alone, but when Trump entered the race, Bush, who had early been considered the likely Republican nominee started to falter in the polls, and Murphy, who helped get Arnold Schwarzenegger elected as governor, came under criticism for the PAC's spending.
Murphy has also faced criticism for overspending on Meg Whitman's governor's race.
She not only invested $1 million in Murphy's production company shortly before he started working on her campaign, but she eventually ended up spending $144 million of her own money.
But Right to Rise spokesman Paul Lindsay defended Murphy, saying that he is focused on getting Bush elected.
The super PAC has spent $58.8 million so far, even before the primaries start, and recently switched to attack ads on fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, Trump and others.
Other donors complain that Murphy's strategy is harming Rubio while not helping Bush, but Lindsay said it was the right decision to go after Bush's GOP rivals.
Murphy has been involved in GOP politics for many years, advising such party stars as Sen. John McCain, Rick Lazio, Tommy Thompson and Sen. Lamar Alexander. He also served as an advisor for President George H.W. Bush's 1992 campaign.
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