Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

By David Montero, San Bernardino County Sun
Posted: 05/12/16 – 9:47 PM PDT |

California is about to take on the role of general election ATM for Donald Trump.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president will be in Los Angeles on May 25 for a fundraiser hosted by Thomas Barrack, founder and executive chairman of the global real estate and investment firm Colony Capital. The event comes at a time when Trump is trying to unify a fractured GOP polarized by a bruising, bitter primary fight.

Now that Trump has sidelined Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, he needs donors to open up their wallets for him to win the White House.

Los Angeles-based Republican strategist John Thomas said he expects there to be an additional event added to the Barrack fundraiser, likely a joint gathering with the Republican National Committee that would allow donors to write bigger checks than the $2,700 limit set by campaign finance laws.

“A typical swing through California shouldn’t get less than $1 million,” Thomas said. “That would be a good start.”

In 2012, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama together spent more than $1.1 billion during the general election.

Barrack endorsed Trump on Feb. 29 and said in a statement released by the campaign that he’d invested with the real estate mogul over three decades and that he “has always exceeded my expectations on every measurable metric of excellence.”

Through a spokeswoman, Barrack declined to comment on any specifics of the fundraiser, but, even with few details, some Republicans were interested in attending.

Count Mell Flynn, president of the Hollywood Congress of Republicans, as a hopeful attendee. “I’m looking into it,” she said. “I’m feeling a lot better about him, and I think he is starting to surround himself with good and credible people.”

Because California is a reliably blue state — even Los Angeles Republican Party Chairman Mark Vafiades agreed Trump wouldn’t put it in play — its role is to raise and spread money throughout the country in key swing states such as Ohio and Florida.

Vafiades said that while some donors may not want to contribute to Trump because he is an outsider, he may be able to tap wealthy donors in places previously weighted against Republicans.

“He knows and has a lot of relationships in the entertainment industry,” Vafiades said. “That is an area traditionally dominated by liberals. There is also real estate, where he has developed many relationships over the years. I don’t see him having trouble raising money here.”

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