The biggest Republican megadonor you've never heard of - 2018-03-19
Democrats and many Republicans in Illinois were horrified by the ad: a 60-second spot released by Gov. Bruce Rauner's GOP primary challenger, Jeanne Ives, featuring a parade of politically incorrect takes on thorny cultural issues. A deep-voiced man portraying a transgender woman tells Rauner, "Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls bathroom." Then a young woman thanks Rauner for "making all Illinois families pay for my abortions."
But equally shocking to the content was the person who had made the ad possible: Richard Uihlein, a little-known Republican donor who had until recently been one of Rauner's biggest supporters. After a fallout with the governor over abortion policy, Uihlein gave $2.5 million to Ives in a single week this past January — essentially bankrolling her campaign to defeat Rauner in a Republican primary on Tuesday.
It's the latest example of Uihlein's burgeoning role as one of the most influential, but still little-known, political donors in the country. His early six- and seven-figure contributions to emerging Republican candidates, and penchant for disruptive politics, have been crucial to building a raft of anti-establishment Republicans seeking to emulate Donald Trump's formula for success during this year's midterm elections.