Ex-tobacco exec bankrolls centrist third party

R&I – FS

A new centrist political party is gaining steam, but records show it’s being largely financed by a single man: a former Philip Morris executive who helped steer the company through the tobacco wars of the 1990s.

Why it matters: The Serve America Movement is running candidates in a handful of states, banking on the appeal of a non-ideological party. The outsized financial influence of donor Charles W. Wall underscores the challenge of overcoming extreme partisan rancor with a process-focused political movement.

What’s happening: Serve America was founded in 2017. It was initially led by some prominent “Never Trump” Republicans, Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen and former executive director Sarah Lenti.

  • The group eschews traditional policy platforms in favor of political process, with a focus on transparency, voting rights and political accountability.
  • SAM has state chapters in New York and Connecticut, and it ran or endorsed gubernatorial candidates in both states in 2018, drawing nearly 4% of the vote in Connecticut — significantly better than any other third party.
  • The party’s new executive chairman, former Republican Rep. David Jolly, is considering a 2022 run for Florida governor on the Serve America Movement ticket.


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