Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney and his party raised a sizable $40 million last month from donors who want him to replace President Obama. But even as Romney solidifies his position as the eventual GOP nominee, many supporters who backed his primary election challengers have not come to his aid.
An Associated Press review of campaign finance data found that only a few hundred donors who contributed to candidates such as Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum have changed course and given to Romney's campaign or the Republican Party in April. That's as GOP stalwarts and some former rivals have called on supporters to rally around Romney's White House run.
Romney is hardly hurting for cash, having reported more than $61 million in the bank by the end of April. But financial reports released Sunday reveal a potential struggle for Romney in persuading his party's more conservative donors to open their wallets for him, though there are more than five months until Election Day.
Out of more than 50,000 donors who gave to other GOP candidates -- such as Gingrich, Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- since the start of the nomination race, fewer than 600 appeared to write checks to Romney in April, the AP's review of Federal Election Commission reports found. Roughly the same number contributed to the Republican National Committee, which is now helping Romney's campaign.
Wealthy donors such as former Santorum supporter Foster Friess are now supporting Romney, realizing that his sizable delegate count and financial strength all but guarantee his nomination this summer. Other eventual Romney donors had already given early to his rivals, partly to support a spirited debate during the primary season.
Willis J. Johnson, founder of auto dealer Copart USA, said he contributed to Perry and Gingrich last year because he personally liked Perry and admired Gingrich's insistence on quizzing Romney during debates.
Other conservatives, however, have been more wary. One blog post last week on the conservative RedState.com, referring to Romney's Liberty speech, asked: "Mr. Romney said that marriage is between one man and one woman. He got deafening applause. But where was he when it mattered?"
About a quarter of Romney April-turnaround donors gave checks of $2,500 or more, including amounts up to the maximum $30,800 legally allowed to a political party. In March -- just before Romney started raising general election cash -- about 300 former Santorum and Gingrich supporters contributed to the former Massachusetts governor's campaign.
A report detailing the contributions of Romney's joint-fundraising committee is due out this summer.
A Romney spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.
April's financial reports, due to the FEC by midnight Sunday, showed that Obama and the Democratic Party brought in a combined $43.6 million last month.