In politics, a “rainmaker” is an individual who can raise campaign funds for others.
Often, a rainmaker is a retired politician who still has a significant following and can make use of those connections for fundraising purposes.
Staffers and professional fundraisers can also act as rainmakers for politicians.
When Hillary Clinton was running for president, her famous husband often served as her rainmaker.
Former president Bill Clinton was a big draw for fundraisers; the prospect of meeting with Bill Clinton was enough to bring out donors in droves.
In a piece titled “Bill Clinton: Hillary’s Rainmaker,” the Huffington Post reported on a fundraising drive which used the former president’s star power:
Pitchman Bill Clinton’s e-mail promised contributors to his wife’s campaign a chance to watch the Oct. 30 debate with him: “You, me, a TV, and a bowl of chips.” Within five days, Hillary pulled in $170,000 in chunks of $200 and less, more than three times what she raised in the preceding five days. “Oh, we had a blast,” David Monterosso, one of three chosen to watch the debate told Hillary, in a telephone call videotaped by the campaign. “And I made sure your husband ate some carrots.”
Retired politicians can be rainmakers – but so can politicians who are still in office. In 2012, US News and World Report declared that then-president Obama was the most effective fundraiser in US history.
Not only did Obama beat his challenger, Mitt Romney, at the fundraising game, but the president did so largely by drawing on his own appeal, instead of using a third-party rainmaker.
In a piece titled “Rainmaker in Chief,” US News and World Report announced, “the 2012 election’s $6 billion price tag is officially the most ever spent, and President Barack Obama is officially the biggest fundraiser in the modern history of American politics, the Federal Election Commission filings show.”
Of course, presidents and former presidents aren’t the only ones who can make it rain.
Rainmaker can have a positive connotation, but it can also be used to suggest a moral or legal taint.
Back in 2008, the Washington Times wrote about the former senator Joe Biden’s fundraising practices.
The article, “Rainmaker Lobbyist Aids Biden,” focused on Biden’s connections to a lobbyist named William Oldmaker. The piece repeatedly used the word “rainmaker” to describe Oldmaker, with the implication that the word alone was enough to tarnish his reputation:
William Oldaker, a federal lobbyist whom one watchdog group dubbed “the rainmaker,” and his associates have held dual roles as insiders for Mr. Biden’s political committees and the lobbying firm co-founded by his son R. Hunter Biden.
Use of “Rainmaker” in a sentence
- As a political rainmaker, the senator had an uncanny ability to secure substantial campaign donations, ensuring that his party had the necessary funds for the upcoming elections.
- The mayor, a well-known rainmaker within local politics, was frequently called upon to help fundraise for various initiatives and campaigns due to her vast network of wealthy supporters.
- Recognizing his potential as a rainmaker, the political party appointed the charismatic businessman as their fundraising chairman, hoping his influence and connections would generate the necessary financial resources for their campaign.
Taegan Goddard is the creator of the Political Dictionary.
Goddard spent more than a decade on Wall Street as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he also served as a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You Won – Now What?: How Americans Can Make Democracy Work from City Hall to the White House, a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties.
His essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines across the country.
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University.
He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.