Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was in California’s Bay Area Wednesday and Thursday making his potential pre-presidential fundraising rounds.
His trip came as he faced heat for supporting an Indiana law that Democrats, many Silicon Valley elites, and left-leaning media outlets allege permits discrimination against homosexuals. Bush has insisted that “once the facts are established, people are not going to see this as discriminatory at all,” contending instead that the law protects religious believers.
Prior to Bush’s visit, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly emailed supporters of his 2018 gubernatorial campaign citing Bush’s visit and urging people to sign a petition against the Indiana law.
Despite certain political differences, Bush might not have as difficult a time raising funds in the extremely liberal Bay Area for his Right to Rise Super PAC due to some of his own liberal views. Much of the liberal support for Bush has to do with his calls for immigration reform, which sets him apart significantly from the rest of the Republican field. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is among the Silicon Valley elite who see eye-to-eye with Bush on this issue.
Bush “will be seen as more tech-savvy and tech-friendly than other mainstream Republicans but not nearly as much as Rand Paul, who is developing a strong set of connections by appealing appeal to the more libertarian side of Silicon Valley,” said Corey Cook of University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, according to the Contra Costa Times.
Yet, California Republican Party vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco said most Silicon Valley tech donors are holding off on donating to campaigns since there are many “excellent potential candidates including one of their own, Carly Fiorina,” who is also eyeing a presidential bid, the Times reports.
For the time being, Bush appears to have locked in some support in the Northern Bay. Venture capitalist Bill Draper who was present at Wednesday’s luncheon at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto reportedly said he was “blown away” with Bush’s handling of policy questions “with nuance and clarity and coolness,” the Times notes. And Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen told the San Francisco Chronicle, “…for as much as the media talks about the Bush surname being a liability, it is an incredible asset when it comes to raising money. He has a financial network that he developed in Florida, and he can tap into his brother’s financial network and his dad’s financial network. No other Republican comes close.”
This will likely be the start of many similar trips for Bush to the Bay Area as he gears up for a potential presidential announcement. Barack Obama made the 20th trip of this presidency to the Bay Area this past February but has been losing support in the Golden State, despite having relied heavily on fundraising here over the course of his time in the White House.
Bush is not the only potential Republican candidate to visit the Bay Area ahead of pending announcements. Recent fundraising tours include the likes of Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz–who is so far the first and only person to officially declare his GOP candidacy.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz