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Rick Perry assembles top California donors for campaign

August 15, 2011|By Tom Hamburger
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty…)

An invitation has just landed in the in-boxes of California conservatives inviting them to a conference call with Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday to discuss his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination and invite their participation -- particularly in the all-important realm of fundraising.

The invitation is impressive for the big-name California political and business leaders listed on it, testament to the fast work of Perry's new but nimble California campaign supporters.

The list on the email invitation does not include the business or political affiliations of the donors, but many are recognizable.

They include: Edward Atsinger, chief executive of Salem Communications a Christian-oriented broadcasting company; Jay Hoffman, a Reagan administration veteran and international consultant; Joe Czyzyk, chief executive of Mercury Air, the worldwide aviation services company based in southern California; Michael Warder, a political commentator and a vice chancellor at Pepperdine University; Fred Sands, Los Angeles investor and developer, who has led Vintage Capital Group and Vintage Real Estate; Michael and Dean Spanos, executives with the influential Spanos construction and development companies and owners of the San Diego Chargers; Rock Zierman, ceo of the California Independent Petroleum Association; Steve Chazen, president and chief financial officer ofOccidental Petroleum.

The list also includes Shawn Steel, the former chairman of the state Republican party and his wife Michelle Park Steele, vice chair of the state Board of Equalization.

The head of California's Independent oil producer's organization, Rock Zierman was one of the potential donors meeting with Perry last month at a hotel in Century City. He had been impressed with the governor, his energy and job creation record.

Zierman said in an interview Monday that he urged Perry to make the race and he and others pledged their support. Since then Zierman says he has been impressed with the response he is getting as he seeks to build support for Perry.

"I am suprised how fast people are willing to sign up and support him and pledge support at a level they hadn't participated at before," he said.

All would-be presidential candidates come to California, to draw money from the state's wealthy elite, who function as a kind of ATM for political candidates. But Perry has a special relationship with California conservtives.

A group of Republican legislators in the state, led by Assemblyman Dan Logue (R- Marysville). launched one of the earliest Draft Perry for President websites earlier this year. Logue hosted a visit from Perry in June.

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