Last weekend in Dallas, some of the country’s top conservative donors, including Paul Singer and Ken Griffin, filed into a meeting of the American Opportunity Alliance, at one of billionaire Harlan Crow’s properties, to discuss the Republican presidential primary. But the more interesting, and far more clandestine, meeting occurred in Dallas two weeks prior, when a group of conservative power brokers, including Senator J.D. Vance, gathered at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Dallas to discuss the future of the Republican Party itself.
The summit, which was attended by some 150 donors and guests, including Rebekah Mercer and Steve Wynn, and featured a live longhorn steer in the ballroom, was the latest get-together of the Rockbridge Network, a secretive donor alliance that has quickly become one of the most puzzled-over groups among G.O.P. insiders.
Rockbridge, which Vance co-founded in 2019 with Chris Buskirk, the publisher of the pro-Trump journal American Greatness, started small, hosting get-togethers at restaurants where they worked to convince donors to back polling projects or investigative journalism. At the time, Vance was a bestselling author dabbling in venture capital; Buskirk had made some money in insurance and was an early apostle for Trumpism. The two friends came to share the view that Republican donors lacked a quantifiable strategy for social change and were too focused on short-term wins.