Gov. Scott Walker was the favorite in an informal straw poll of wealthy donors attending the Koch brothers' gathering of GOP candidates in California, literally becoming the hands-down favorite of most of the hundred or so donors in a closed-door session.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz asked donors to clap to show their choice for the 2016 nominee, and Walker by far got the most applause, sources at the gathering told Politico.
He was followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina after them.
One source, though, said former New York Gov. George Pataki and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham got no claps at all, and Luntz joked about how quiet the room had become.
The group was only about a quarter of the 450 conservatives at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Dana Point, California, last weekend at the gathering of the Freedom Partners' Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella organization for groups led by Charles and David Koch. The gathering attracted many of the 17 GOP presidential candidates, except for front-runner Donald Trump.
According to reports, the Kochs are blocking Trump's access to influential tools
in their political armory, including access to their state-of-the-art data and analytics services. He has also been excluded from their annual grassroots summit next month in Columbus, Ohio, run by Americans for Prosperity, as well as the weekend's California gathering, although most of his GOP rivals were invited and made appearances.
Freedom Partners would not comment to Politico about the informal straw poll or which donors were at the breakout session.
However, if donors are lining up behind Walker, they could provide a much-needed boost to his campaign coffers. His own super PAC has raised $20 million
to date, but he's far behind the $103 million raised by Bush's organization.
There are still many donors who are not committed to any of the candidates, including the billionaire Koch brothers themselves and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who sent a political adviser to the California gathering.
Walker's informal straw poll win came as a surprise, after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz received most of the applause on Sunday during a presentation to the donors. Also, Walker's stance concerning $250 million in taxpayer funds for a new arena for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks raised eyebrows, as the Kochs' oppose government intervention in the free market system.
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