WASHINGTON — Although he’s not a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio nonetheless has many wealthy donors eager to support his political ambitions.
When he launched his presidential campaign, Rubio was likely already holding onto a generous campaign war chest from supporters of his congressional campaigns. MapLight, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the influence of money on politics, recorded $18,693,554 in campaign contributions between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2015.
Rubio’s biggest donor during that period was the Club for Growth, which gave $362,826. According to Right Wing Watch, the organization “touts itself as the inheritor of Ronald Reagan’s ‘vision of limited government and lower taxes’ and it advances this anti-government vision through its support of political candidates who hew to its right-wing economic orthodoxy.”
MapLight also put Rubio among the top recipients of funds from pro-Israel donors, with $147,430 received during that same period. A platform page on Rubio’s website attacks President Barack Obama for his failure “to stand with Israel” on Iran, declaring: “Israel is exactly what America wants and needs as an ally, especially in the Middle East.”
Other major donors include investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, one of the engineers of the 2008 financial crash; Koch Industries, the company owned by fossil fuel billionaires the Koch Brothers; Microsoft Corp.; and players in the investment, real estate, Florida sugar, and insurance industries. Private prison corporation, The Geo Group, also gave generously.
Several wealthy investors have fueled Conservative Solutions PAC, Rubio’s super PAC, which had raised $16 million as of July last year, with three-quarters of that coming from just four donors, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Of the total, $5 million came from Norman Braman, a billionaire auto dealer and “longtime friend and patron” of the senator.
Tech billionaire Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle Corporation, gave $3 million. An additional $2 million came from Laura Perlmutter, wife of Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. Besilu Stables, a horse racing company in Miami, donated $2.5 million.
Financial analyst Rick Newman, writing in June for Yahoo! Finance, explained that donors see Rubio, a 43-year-old Cuban-American, as a “fresh face able to appeal to Hispanic voters deemed essential to winning key states like Florida.”
And while his presidential prospects may seem slim, Newman added that financial supporters of Rubio expect him to have a “bright political future,” regardless of the outcome at the primary:
“He could end up as the vice presidential candidate for anybody other than Jeb Bush (since it’s not advisable for both members of the ticket to hail from the same state). As VP, he’d be young enough to run for president again in 2020 or 2024 after serving as understudy. He could also run for Florida governor if his White House bid flops, which means many donors see him as a worthwhile investment even if he comes up short in 2016.”
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