9:09 am Sep. 20, 2011
Governor Rick Perry attended his first official New York fund-raiser last night, and according to the host, it went well.
"People were pumped," said real estate executive Myers Mermel. "They were really enthused, beyond the ordinary pleasantries. On the campaign trail, it’s either there or it’s not. It’s definitely there for him."
Mermel said more than 100 people crowded into an apartment on Central Park West, including some who traveled from hours away.
"I was swamped by Republican county chairs from all over the state who wanted to attend," Mermel said. "We had people from as far away as Cayuga County come down and they were thrilled he was running. Finding somebody who’s popular in Manhattan and upstate is not easy to do. He appeals to both."
Perry gave brief remarks at the event, citing his strong economic record, and also touched on Israel, though "not in detail," according to Mermel.
"He said in a Perry presidency, the Perry Doctrine, would be standing with our allies," Mermel recalled.
(Perry will appear at a pro-Israel rally this morning near Union Square, calling on the Obama administration to block a vote to recognize Palestinian statehood.)
Mermel co-chaired Mike Huckabee's New York effort in 2008, and said he was drawn to Perry after Huckabee decided not to run and he was underwhelmed by what was left of the field.
"A lot of the other candidates want to just repeal Obama, and go back to some pre-Obama status quo," Mermel said. "He wants to go beyond that."
Mitt Romney is the preferred candidate some experienced local Republican bundlers, and is presumed to have an advantage among party donors in New York City because of the fact that he has run before and has established relationships among the city's elite. Perry has yet to establish a formal finance committee for his local efforts, but his supporters believe they can cut into Romney's fund-raising base here.
"We’re making very good inroads into that support," Mermel said.
While he declined to give the amount Perry raised at last night's event, Mermel said it was easy to do the rough math, based on the $2,500 contribution required to attend. (Assuming each of the hundred-plus people Mermel estimated were there paid that amount, the total take would be in excess of $250,000.)
"It was a very strong first showing," Mermel said. "Typically candidates come for the first time, and it is a fraction of that."