GOP establishment money, support rush to Rubio in wake of Jeb’s exit

Despite defeat in four consecutive primaries, one of which was a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, GOP presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio has emerged to be the prime beneficiary of the departed Jeb Bush’s political largesse.

In the Senate, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dean Heller (R-NV) followed a string of House members to support Rubio including:  Carlos Curbelo, Mario Díaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Gus Bilirakis and Jeff Miller, all of whom formerly endorsed Jeb Bush.

Speaking to reporters, Hatch declared Rubio to be a “more serious candidate” than rival Donald Trump.  Hatch continued:

“I feel he has the background to be able to really help turn this mess around.”

Rubio has also gained the backing of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley along with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who announced his support on Twitter.

Former Kansas Senator and GOP nominee, Bob Dole, also admitted his support, saying Rubio is a “better candidate” during a podcast interview on ABC’s “Political Powerhouse.”

Jeb Bush’s exit notwithstanding, aiding Rubio’s recent endorsements is an unceasing series of blunders by the Cruz campaign:  Following its involvement in flyers indicating misleading participation scores, the Cruz campaign broadcast Dr. Ben Carson had planned to drop from the race as the New Hampshire primary approached; and over the weekend, Cruz’s former spokesman was sacked for tweeting a blatantly false video that suggested Rubio had dismissed the Bible as a wellspring of answers for adherents.

Shadowing the endorsements are the donors:

“Jeb’s network is already naturally migrating to Marco; it’s the clear path,” said Gaylord Hughey, a prime Bush fundraiser.

Many wealthy GOP donors refused to be identified out of respect for Jeb Bush, but most planned on switching their loyalty in the days following Jeb’s withdrawal:

“It’s flooding tonight. Ninety-five percent of Jeb’s money is going to end up with Marco,” said Brian Ballard,” another key Bush fundraiser.

Federal finance reports revealed the Rubio campaign had roughly $5 million in a campaign war chest at the end of January.

With a reluctance to embrace Cruz, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump a self-financed effort and the Bush finance team demonstrating fundraising acumen by raising and spending over $130 million in a losing effort, Rubio stands to reap advantages.

Florida’s junior senator better make it count on Super Tuesday though. After finishing a distant second on Tuesday night in the Nevada caucuses, 22 points behind winner Donald Trump, Rubio doesn’t have much time to take his campaign to the next level.

[Reuters] [Photo courtesy]