There weren't a whole lot of big-money institutional Republican types disappointed by Sarah Palin's announcement that she will not seek the Presidency in 2012. But there were reportedly quite a few of those folks trying to lure Chris Christie into the race.
What I haven't seen much of is the suggestion that this may have a little something to do with the GOP's problem on gay rights.
Mind you, there are plenty of reasons why various individuals have kept fishing for a new candidate, rather than accepting the ones actually in the game. But you have to admit it's a little strange for some of these moneyed financial-industry titans -- especially when they have such an obviously pro-Wall Street supercandidate in Mitt Romney, and another fiercely pro-business alternative in Rick Perry.
It seems that Christie's demurral has finally taken away all hope of finding another choice. The news today brings two big names (both reported at Politico) who had hoped for Christie and are now slouching to Romney: mega-fundraising hedge fund manager Paul Singer and former RNC chairman Jim Nicholson.
Singer was perhaps the single biggest financial backer and fundraiser for New Yorkers United for Marriage, which recently helped pass same-sex marriage into law in that state -- Singer's gay son, who lives in Massachusetts, got married not long ago. Nicholson was noted for his attempts at inclusiveness when heading the RNC, including significant outreach to the Law Cabin Republicans.
Perhaps the most vocal Christie-recruiter-turned-Romney-backer is Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot. Langone backed gay-friendly Giuliani in '08, and Home Depot was one of the earliest and most prominent supporter of gay-rights initiatives.
Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager reportedly involved in the draft-Christie effort, was right there with Singer in the New Yorkers United for Marriage effort. Charles Schwab -- who has already contributed to Romney this year -- was another Christie booster; his company has been long cited as a model of gay-friendliness.
Romney, of course, has been pounding the drums against same-sex marriage for the past seven years, often with dismissive and insulting rhetoric, and this year even signed the noxious National Organization for Marriage pledge. He also opposes civil unions, and (despite earlier support) condemned this year's lifting of Don't Ask Don't Tell. He is, to be sure, far less aggressively anti-gay than his 2012 GOP rivals, including Perry. But you can imagine that Republicans favoring full gay rights might have hoped for a more tolerant option.
Christie opposes same-sex marriage, but has seemed favorable toward civil unions; he has also stated his opinion that his church is wrong to call homosexuality a sin, and signed a very tough anti-bullying law pushed by gay-rights advocates.
In other words, Christie was the closest thing left to gay-friendly in the GOP Presidential universe. With him out, Singer et al are turning to the least gay-hating candidate, which is Romney. That could be purely coincidental to what's transpired, but I suspect not.