WASHINGTON — It's one thing to land a seven-figure donor in the super PAC era of politics. It's quite another feat to nail down a monster contributor who will give exclusively to support a single presidential candidate.
That is exactly what is happening between a Rick Perry-aligned super PAC and the wealthy, Dallas-based Deason family.
“We’re not splitting the baby. We’re all in for Perry,” Doug Deason said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “Obviously, we’ll be all in for whoever wins the nomination, but until he either makes it or doesn’t, we’re going to be all in for Perry."
Doug Deason is the son of Darwin Deason, a billionaire who made his fortune in data processing. The elder Deason was behind the $5 million contribution to the “Opportunity and Freedom PAC” this year, but Doug Deason is actively engaged with the organization.
Such support from wealthy families has had a dominant impact thus far in the 2016 GOP presidential race, feeding super PACs that are playing an outsize role. And with so many candidates, maintaining a loyal pipeline is crucial.
While Darwin Deason is not the super PAC’s largest contributor, his $5 million donation made the difference in thrusting Perry into the higher tier of campaign fundraising. And that positioning could be pivotal for Perry, who has been regularly polling in the single digits so far and could be in danger of not being on the podium for the first GOP presidential debate.
But that's not dissuading the Deason family, who Doug Deason said could "potentially" put more money in for Perry.
He said he knows and likes U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and made a four-figure donation to the Paul campaign. But when it comes to the serious super PAC money, he underscored his loyalty to Perry.
With the first GOP presidential debate only two weeks away, Deason acknowledged what little room for error his friend of 16 years has in that realm.
“It’s very important,” he said. “I know he can" perform well.
But even to a family as wealthy as the Deasons, seven-figure donations are significant. Deason acknowledged he would feel disappointed if Perry came up short, but there would be no regrets.
“If he doesn’t make it, we’ll be disappointed, but we’ll feel good that we set him up to make it.”
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.