Judging from the net worths of the nine leading Republican presidential nominees, politicians need to be wealthy to run for high office. By most Americans’ standards, all nine are considered rich. The wealthiest candidate, Mitt Romney, is worth somewhere between $190 million and $250 million. Those on the lower end of the spectrum, such as Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, are still worth at least $1 million. The wealth of these politicians has been amassed in several ways.
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Some have made money in traditional ways. Romney made the majority of his fortune at management consulting firm Bain & Company, rising through the ranks to the top job, and at private equity firm Bain Capital, which he co-founded. Herman Cain made his money working as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.
Others have made their money more directly from their politics before becoming a presidential candidate. Libertarian candidate Ron Paul has published a number of best-selling books over the last few years, each of which explores his political ideology. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich became a consultant and political analyst after he resigned from office. Rick Santorum has worked as a consultant and contributor to Fox News.
24/7 Wall St. has looked at the net worths of the Republicans currently running for their party’s presidential nomination and how each became wealthy. We did not include less popular politicians, such as Buddy Roemer, who has not participated in any major recent Republican debates. Our estimates are based on the Federal Election Commission’s public financial disclosure statements as well as media reports. Despite these mandatory disclosures, the range in estimated net worth for most of the candidates is quite large.
> Estimated net worth: $190 million – $250 million
> Major accomplishments: Founded Bain Capital, Governor of Massachusetts
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Mitt Romney’s net worth is between $190 million and $250 million, according to media reports based on his disclosure of personal finances filed with the Federal Election Commission. The majority of Romney’s wealth comes from Bain Capital, a venture capital firm he co-founded, and a wide range of investments. Romney is, by far, the wealthiest candidate running for president.
> Estimated net worth: $1.3 million – $2.8 million
> Major accomplishments: Congresswoman from Minnesota
Michele Bachmann’s net worth at between $1.3 million and $2.8 million, according to media reports based on her disclosure filing. The Minnesota Congresswoman’s largest assets are a family clinic property in Minnesota and a family farm in Wisconsin. Bachmann also possesses “a wide variety of investment funds,” Politico states. The presidential candidate has at least $350,000 worth of debt, stemming from a mortgage and a business loan.
> Estimated net worth: $2.9 million – $6.6 million
> Major accomplishments: CEO of Godfather’s Pizza
Herman Cain, who was born in Memphis, but grew up in Virginia, is the son of poor parents. His mother was a domestic worker and his father worked as a janitor, barber and chauffeur. Working for Pillsbury, Cain oversaw several hundred Burger Kings in the Philadelphia region. He performed so well that he was promoted to CEO of the Godfather’s pizza chain in 1990. To turn the company around, Cain closed down hundreds of locations, leading the company to a profit. Media reports based on his public financial disclosure to the FEC put Cain’s net worth between $2.9 million and $6.6 million.
> Estimated net worth: $2.25 million – $5 million
> Major accomplishments: Congressman from Texas, Author
Ron Paul’s net worth is between approximately $2.25 million and $5 million, according to OpenSecrets. Trained in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Paul started his own practice in the late 1960s, following service in the Air Force. Paul has also written a number of best-selling books, including Liberty Defined, End the Fed, and The Revolution: A Manifesto.
> Estimated net worth: at least $1.1 million
> Major accomplishments: Governor of Texas
Rick Perry is worth at least $1.1 million, according to Forbes. The majority of this wealth has been accumulated while he served in office. Perry’s biggest source of income is his real estate deals. In 2007, Perry made over $800,000 selling land in Texas’ Horseshoe Bay, a lot he had originally purchased in 2001 for approximately $300,000. Controversy has surrounded this deal and others, with critics claiming Perry used political leverage to increase his profits.
John Huntsman was ambassador to Singapore during the early years of the Clinton administration. In 2005, he became the Governor of Utah, serving a full term before being appointed ambassador to China by the Obama administration. Huntsman inherited some of his father’s fortunes and is estimated to have a net worth between $16 million and $71 million. Most of this wealth is in the form of stock in his father’s company.
> Estimated net worth: at least $6.7 million
> Major accomplishments: Speaker of the House
According to the Los Angeles Times, Newt Gingrich has a net worth of at least $6.7 million. This is up from a net worth of somewhere between $873,000 and $2.4 million reported in 2006. The majority of this wealth comes “from a multimillion-dollar ‘promissory note’ from the Gingrich Group, LLC to Gingrich Productions, Inc., entities that are part of Gingrich’s eponymous network of nonprofit and for-profit organizations,” the LA Times writes. That promissory note alone is worth between $5 million and $25 million.
> Estimated net worth: $880,000 – $1.9 million
> Major accomplishments: Senator from Pennsylvania, Fox News commentator
Rick Santorum was a member of the House of Representatives in the early 1990s. He then became a senator from Pennsylvania until 2007. Santorum was a regular contributor to Fox News, a columnist, a consultant to an energy company, and a member of a conservative think-tank in D.C. According to Politico, the former senator’s public financial disclosure lists Santorum’s net worth as being between $880,000 and $1.9 million. According to Pittsburgh-based site Early Returns, most of Santorum’s assets “are tied up in rental properties he owns around the Penn State campus and college savings plans for five of his children.”
Gary E. Johnson
> Estimated net worth: $3 million – $10.5 million
> Major accomplishments: Governor of New Mexico
Born in North Dakota, Gary Johnson founded Big J construction company, which grew to become one of the largest in the state. He became Governor of New Mexico in 1995 and sold the business for a substantial profit in 1999. According to Johnson’s public financial statement, his net worth ranges between $3.5 million and $10.5 million. Johnson’s biggest asset is his home in Taos, N.M., estimated as being worth between $1 million and $5 million.
Michael B. Sauter and Charles B. Stockdale