Stephen Distler, a managing director and treasurer of the global equity firm Warburg Pincus, is also the chairman of the Republican Leadership Council, the centrist GOP group that has long fretted about the influence of conservative Christians on the party. Still, in partisan terms, Distler is unflaggingly loyal.
Like some prominent campaign givers, Distler has also flirted with becoming a candidate himself. Four years ago, Distler told some GOP leaders in New Jersey that he was giving strong consideration to running against embattled Sen. Robert Torricelli. Instead, Distler became an outspoken supporter of Republican candidate Bob Franks, who lost.
Distler is also a longtime confidant and backer of Dick Zimmer, the former GOP congressman from New Jersey who abandoned his seat in 1998 to stage an unsuccessful senate bid.