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Margaret Alexander Parker, 48; raised hundreds of millions for GOP candidates

December 05, 2006|Patricia Sullivan | The Washington Post

Margaret Charlotte Alexander Parker, who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Republican political candidates over the last 25 years and twice worked as finance director of the Republican National Committee, died of complications from leukemia Thursday at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. She was 48.

Alexander Parker helped elect presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, countless Republican members of Congress, governors and other state officeholders.

She was the party's finance director from 1989 to 1993 and again from 2001 to 2005, when she organized and led the team that shattered Republican records for direct-mail, telemarketing and major-donor fundraising -- records that she herself set in her earlier term.

Described by colleagues as gracious and generous, she was also tenacious and hard-driving in the rough, competitive sport of wresting money from potential donors.

"When she walked into a room, you knew she was there," said Ann Herberger, who was finance director for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's campaign and worked with Alexander Parker for nine years. "I couldn't even guess how much money she raised. It was over $500 million, and it could be over a billion."

In 1987, when prerecorded phone calls were just starting to be used in politics, Herberger said, Alexander Parker took a script to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Herberger said the introduction said something like: "Thank you for your $15. Please stay on the line for a message from Vice President Bush."

An iconic photo of Alexander Parker shows Bush frowning at the script while the young fundraiser stood before him, respectfully but resolutely determined to get the recording. She did, and "that was one of the most successful recordings we ever had," Herberger said.

Alexander Parker came to Washington in 1980 to work for the Republican National Committee as a part-time secretary and within a few years was finance director of the political action committee GOPAC and deputy director of major-donor fundraising for the 1984 reelection campaign of President Reagan. She was the national finance director of the George H.W. Bush for President Committee from 1987 to 1989 and the national deputy finance chairwoman of the 1992 Bush presidential campaign.

She also worked on California Gov. Pete Wilson's unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1995.

Alexander Parker was co-founder and managing partner of Advantage Inc., a national political, fundraising and direct-marketing consulting firm, from 1999 to 2004. In 2005, she restarted her own fundraising company, the Alexander Co.

Born in Salisbury, N.C., she attended Salem College and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Survivors include her husband of 12 years, Anthony Weyburn Parker of Washington; a stepson, Preston Weyburn Parker of San Diego; her mother, Doris Turner Alexander of Salisbury; two brothers; and a sister.

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