New York City’s heavy-hitting Republican-leaning donors in recent years were frozen in place at the presidential level by a fellow New Yorker, Donald J. Trump. But that was before Mr. Trump’s decampment to Florida, his plethora of legal entanglements, and his fall from grace after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Now, as the 2024 presidential field takes shape, uncommitted donors and prospective political supporters in one of the country’s wealthiest areas are again opening their doors to Republicans seen as prospective candidates — and the candidates are pouring in.
Last week, Mike Pence, the former vice president who’s considering a presidential campaign, arrived to meet with a Jewish group and held meetings with donors. On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, who became the second Republican to declare a presidential candidacy, will hold a fund-raiser with financial industry executives. Wednesday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia is scheduled to meet with donors and other influential figures in the city.
“Most of these people are coming in only because they are looking to raise money,” said Alfonse D’Amato, New York’s longtime Republican senator turned lobbyist. “Where is the money? The money is in New York.”
Mr. Pence held private meetings in New York City with an undisclosed number of potential donors, part of his efforts as he considers running for president. He has been in New York a number of times, making media appearances but also forging connections with Republican donors who liked aspects of the Trump-era policies but did not care for Mr. Trump’s behavior.
This week, Mr. Youngkin will sit with a string of people. Among them will be John Catsimatidis, a grocery store magnate who has historically been a politically ambidextrous donor, but who had a long history with Mr. Trump.
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The race begins. Four years after a historically large number of candidates ran for president, the field for the 2024 campaign is starting out small and is likely to be headlined by the same two men who ran last time: President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump. Here’s who has entered the race so far, and who else might run:
It remains unclear what Mr. Youngkin’s intentions are for 2024, and to what end he is holding meetings beyond his current job. People familiar with his thinking had said he had anticipated that Mr. Trump would be in a stronger position after the 2022 midterms than he ended up being in, and now that the field is likely to be more crowded than expected, it’s not clear that the governor — who is barred from seeking re-election in Virginia — will want to try to join them.
Still, his visit to New York City as the presidential primary is forming has caught notice. Mr. Youngkin, a former Carlyle Group C.E.O., has many ties in the financial community, which is heavy with donors. An aide said Mr. Youngkin wouldn’t address fund-raising until after the Virginia legislative session ends. The aide said Mr. Youngkin’s fund-raising discussions were expected to concern Virginia’s fall legislative elections.
Other Republicans with deep ties to the city’s donors said that Mr. Trump was facing significant competition for support in New York.
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“No way does Trump have New York locked up,” Mr. D’Amato said. “The more people see him, the worse he looks.”
Mr. D’Amato backed Mr. Trump in 2016 and 2020, but he feared the former president’s “ego” would cost his party another election — Republicans have had three straight disappointing cycles with Mr. Trump as the party’s figurehead. Many of the state’s deep-pocketed donors share that view, he added, and were prepared to support a range of challengers to see who might emerge as the most viable foil.
“I’d be the first to tell you that as a president, he did a good job,” Mr. D’Amato said. “But thereafter he just butchered himself. He blew the election and claims it was a stolen one. They outhustled you, they outsmarted you, they outcampaigned you.”
Mr. Catsimatidis said the meeting with Mr. Youngkin was not a fund-raiser, but a chance for members of the free-market Committee to Unleash Prosperity to get “to know him better.”
The group, which promotes free trade and lower taxes and government spending, counts among its founders the media mogul Steve Forbes, the conservative economist Arthur Laffer and Larry Kudlow. All three supported Mr. Trump in the past, and Mr. Kudlow served as one of his top economic advisers.
Mr. Catsimatidis said that this time around, he would probably host a dinner for any candidate who asked to meet with him. He said he had already hosted Mike Pompeo, a secretary of state under Mr. Trump, who is considering a presidential campaign of his own.
Mr. Catsimatidis is among the donors in the city who lavished support on Mr. Trump for years. He hosted Mr. Trump on his WABC radio show last fall, and they have a number of mutual associates from Mr. Trump’s decades in New York.
But Mr. Catsimatidis sounded less enthused about Mr. Trump’s prospects for the future. He said the former president was a “very bright individual” who could be “excellent” if he would lay off criticizing other Republicans and try to appeal to the center of the electorate.
“I have advised him that he should be telling people how good he is, and the good things he accomplished for our country versus how bad the other people are,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “He has to be able to achieve 51 percent, and you’re not going to achieve 51 percent unless you can get the people in the middle to go your way.”