Have a Penny, Leave a Penny, so the saying goes. But where is President Barack Obama's lucky penny? Has she left?
Penny Pritzker, Obama's "money man" during his successful presidential campaign four years ago, hasn't been wrangling record sums of money for the Illinois Democrat this time around, according to a front page New York Times report from Sunday. Her lack of fund raising has led, some say, to Obama's current lag behind presumptive GOP opponent Mitt Romney.
Ms. Pritzker’s commitment has become a matter of mystery and consternation among some Obama supporters struggling to recreate the success of the 2008 finance team that she led as chairwoman. Though she is assisting with the re-election campaign in a number of ways, Ms. Pritzker — whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain and is active in charitable and Jewish causes — is less visible, has cut back on fund-raising and has told friends that she is intentionally doing less.
Some donors have taken that as a signal — or used it as an excuse — to scale back, according to those involved in fund-raising, even as the president’s fund-raising pace lags behind that of his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
“Donors have asked, ‘Where’s Penny?’ ” said Andy Spahn, a Democratic consultant in Los Angeles who works with prominent Hollywood supporters. “We have called her and not gotten callbacks.”
Pritzker's family is among the most powerful in Chicago and Forbes rated her on the "America's Wealthiest" list in 2010 with an estimated worth of $1.7 billion. Considering the 53-year-old Hyatt Hotel scion could easily close the $35 gap without breaking the bank, losing her support would be a huge blow to the Obama campaign.
Pritzker keeps busy in Chicago. She does indeed help raise money to help Rahm Emanuel, as reported by the Times. However, she also serves on the Chicago Board of Education which is trying to maintain the peace between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teacher's Union.
This being said, if Romney raises $100 million in one month during a tough economy, then the Obama campaign may have a problem on their hands. In which case, as Pritzker's friends told the Times, she will be more than ready to help.