Until recently, most presidential candidates have pretended that they aren’t beholden to the donors who finance their campaigns. For the 2016 race, however, the GOP’s candidates aren’t even hiding the fact that they want to be sold to the highest bidder. Their primary really is dominated by a handful of billionaires, with the candidates hoping to win all-important “auditions” with big-money funders like the Kochs and the Adelsons, who will collectively spend over $1 billion on the campaign.
A few weeks after Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced his candidacy, his super PAC took in $31 million, thanks to the support of Long Island hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Florida Senator Marco Rubio has won a $10 million pledge to his super PAC from the billionaire Miami auto dealer Norman Braman. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been asking donors to give $1 million a pop to his super PAC, which expects to bring in $100 million by end of May, the most ever for an unannounced candidate this early in the process. The Bush campaign is planning to outsource many important campaign activities to his super PAC, from advertising to polling to policy development — despite a prohibition on direct coordination between these groups and the official campaigns. Jeb’s onetime chief rival for the nomination, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has been struggling in part because, “unlike many of his rivals, he appears to lack a prominent wealthy donor prepared, at this point, to sustain a campaign with a multimillion-dollar contribution,” The New York Times noted.
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