Federal Election Commission filings show that just announced Presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) unexpectedly raised about $380,000, or 20 percent, of his Victory Fund campaign cash from residents in normally ultra-liberal-voting California.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the Rubio Victory Fund, a committee that raises money for both his Senate campaign committee and his leadership Political Action Committee (PAC), disclosed that 51 people gave $10,000 or more to the fund, accounting for $574,000 of the $1.7 million raised from individual donors.
About two-thirds of the money raised by Rubio’s Victory Fund came from outside his home state of Florida. Rubio, as expected, collected $508,000 from his home state, but his number two state was California, where he raised $380,000. Although California is the largest state in the nation, it is usually not known for big GOP fundraising.
Rubio’s most interesting support came from Sheldon Adelson’s daughter, Shelly Adelson, and son-in-law Patrick Dumont, who both donated to Rubio’s leadership PAC. On Jan. 19, just days before Rubio first signaled he would likely run for President, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson each contributed $10,200 to the Rubio Victory Fund.
Early support from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife is meaningful, because the couple was the biggest campaign donor of the 2012 cycle, with more than $92 million in contributions to conservative super PACs.
New York real estate developer Ben Heller, who in September had made maximum donations to the campaign and leadership PACs for Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is now solidly on board with Rubio.
Heller also donated $365,000 in 2014 to B-PAC, a super PAC that unsuccessfully worked to defeat Democrat Gary Peters’ bid for Michigan’s open Senate seat. Fellow donors to B-PAC include Alticor Inc., owned by the conservative mega-donor family of Richard DeVos, and hedge fund managers Paul Singer (the No. 3 top donor in the 2014 cycle) and Robert Mercer (No. 4 on the 2014 donor list).
Stephen Chazen, Chief Executive Officer of Occidental Petroleum and a big contributor to conservative super PACs, gave $10,400 to the Rubio team on March 23. That was the same day that Senator Ted Cruz officially announced his campaign.
In 2012, Chazen donated $100,000 to the Make Us Great Again, the super PAC that backed GOP Presidential hopeful Rick Perry, and $50,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund, a super PAC that split from the GOP establishment to back Cruz’ Senate bid. Chazen also contributed $200,000 to American Crossroads, and in the fall gave $125,000 to Freedom Partners Action Fund, the super PAC associated with the Koch brothers’ donor network, and $100,000 to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super PAC that backed the re-election bid for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).
Victory Fund received a $10,400 donation from Roger Hertog, a New York philanthropist who has previously served on the board of Club for Growth and the American Enterprise Institute. Hertog has given $550,000 to the American Crossroads super PAC and has made large donations to both Cruz and his leadership PAC.
Victory Fund also collected over $10,000 from Randy and Ken Kendricks, the owners of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, and New York grocery magnate Jon Catsimatidis and his wife.
The Victory Fund campaign cash is not money for Rubio’s presidential run. But it shows that Rubio has strength, raising money from big donors and unusual locations, like California. With a great personal story to tell as an impoverished Cuban that made good as a conservative Hispanic in America, Rubio is off to a strong Presidential bid.