Bloomberg News

Banks’ Young Romney Donors Lament as Fox Damps Soiree

November 07, 2012

Banks’ Young Romney Boosters Lament as Fox Damps Vodka Soiree

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wait for Romney to make his concession speech following the news that President Barack Obama has won re-election, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Massachusetts, on Nov. 7, 2012. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The young Wall Street Republicans filling an East 60th Street tavern were sipping grapefruit-vodka cocktails under flag-colored balloons when Fox News delivered election results that quieted them.

“Look,” Matthew Swift said to A. Beaumont Allen, pointing up at a screen as Fox called Ohio for President Barack Obama. The two 26-year-olds paused as the TV flashed Obama’s re- election around 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 6. “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” the Smiths ballad with lyrics about a car crash, came on the stereo. A woman implored the crowd to drink.

Concord 51, a political-action committee of young professionals, threw the party for guests who work in private equity, consulting, law, hedge funds and corporate strategy.

“A group like this -- successful, proven young people -- it’s empowering, it’s great, it’s awesome,” Matt Amling, who works in Washington with banks on regulation at Treliant Risk Advisors LLC, said before Obama won. “Young professionals coming out supporting Mitt Romney and the Republicans is huge.”

The tavern, Brinkley’s Station, is in a century-old former bank building. College graduates who grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, Short Hills, New Jersey, and Charlotte, North Carolina, some sporting pink-striped Ralph Lauren shirts, Coach bags, Oliver Peoples glasses or black Gucci loafers, packed in so tightly that waiters struggled to squeeze through.

‘Talking Points’

The party’s mood had been bright even after Fox began calling some battleground states for Obama. Young employees of firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG:US) said they were staying positive.

The president “doesn’t seem to have as strong talking points on the economy,” Amling said. “If you’re in the financial industry, you’re dealing with that day in and day out, that’s what your focus is, that’s where your attention is paid. And someone who can speak to that and knows the ins and outs of that is going to take that vote.”

Pamphlets stacked near the door featured an endorsement for Concord from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The Republican, who curbed public-employee unions he blamed for draining state coffers, survived a recall vote in June.

“Economy, energy and defense -- no social issues at all, our platform is just those three issues,” said Allen, a Concord spokesman and an account director at Brunswick Group LLC, a communications firm whose specialties include finance.

‘A Blow’

Supporters see Concord’s focus on fiscal instead of social issues as “a breath of fresh air,” said the 6-foot-6 grandson of Ivan Allen Jr., the late Atlanta mayor.

He and Alec Smith, a former distressed-debt analyst who works for social-media firm Think Passenger Inc., expressed optimism about Romney’s chances after Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama at 9:15 p.m.

“There are many different paths to still get to the White House,” said Smith, 25. Wearing black loafers, he stepped over a spilled drink. “Sure it is a blow, but I don’t think it’s as significant as some of these other states.”

Concord spent “six-figures” to support candidates in the election, Swift said. He co-founded the group with Scott P. Caputo, who works as “an investment representative in private wealth management for a global bank,” according to the group’s website. Annual membership costs range from $50 for a monthly newsletter to $1,500 “for individuals that demonstrate outstanding loyalty to Concord 51’s three core issues.”

Gay Marriage

The mood darkened toward the end of the night. A woman explained twice to a waiter that she preferred the next grass- fed burger to be placed closer to one of two televisions.

Blake Saunders, a 26-year-old investment banker at Methuselah Advisors LP, stood near the bar.

“When you push off all these different things that are always brought to the forefront in a primary election,” he said, “like social issues like gay marriage and abortion, if you get to the core of most young people, from 20 to 40 years old, their ultimate thing is they want to wake up the next morning and smile at their children and say, ‘I’m providing for my family.’”

Obama, with a coalition including minority and women voters, was re-elected with the highest unemployment rate of any president returned to office since Franklin Roosevelt.

The next morning, Allen said in an e-mail that the group would expand by attracting “folks from all backgrounds who agree with our issues.” All except one of 28 people on the organization’s board are white, photographs on its website show.

“One of our goals is to radically alter the perception of conservatives,” he wrote, “as old white males.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Max Abelson in New York at mabelson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net


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