money primary
n. A political contest in which potential candidates vie for campaign contributions.
Those people still waiting for Iowa and New Hampshire to see the battle begin are hopelessly behind the times. The real primary — the money primary — is already in full swing, and has been going on now for several months.
—Andrew Sullivan, “Funny money blights the US elections,” Sunday Times (London), October 24, 1999
The first presidential primary is three months away, but the results from the "money primary" are trickling in already. On Wednesday Elizabeth Dole became the fourth Republican to concede defeat, following Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle and John Kasich.
—Editorial, “Mrs. Dole and Money,” The Washington Post, October 22, 1999
1987 (earliest)
When Patricia Schroeder made her pilgrimage to the Westside of Los Angeles while pondering a presidential bid last summer, she joined what one local attorney calls "the California money primary" — the contest for the city's seemingly bottomless pool of political money. No state means more financially to Democratic presidential candidates than California, and Los Angeles is the state's money capital.
—Ronald Brownstein, “The money machine,” Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1987
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