Saturday, December 30, 2017

Billionaires supporting RONALD DEON DeSANTIS for Florida Governor (Politico).

MEDIOCRITY LOVES COMPANY: the other-directed puppet of SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR AND PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is being supported by the billionaire basket of deplorables. These oligarchs are supporting our mediocre Congressman RON DeSANTIS for Governor in the wake of endorsement by President* Asterisk DONALD TRUMP.

Billionaire kingmakers swarm Florida governor's race after Trump endorsement

Not long after an admiring presidential tweet, Congressman Ron DeSantis won the backing of some of the most influential players in GOP politics.

Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty
Just last week, President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter to say that Rep. Ron DeSantis “would make a GREAT Governor of Florida.” | Chris Kleponis/Pool/Getty Images

After Donald Trump appeared to endorse Ron DeSantis’ campaign for Florida governor last week, a handful of the biggest and most influential billionaires in Republican politics threw their support behind the three-term GOP congressman, upending the race in the nation’s biggest swing state. 
The stable of billionaires and millionaires listed on DeSantis’ “Finance Leadership Team,” obtained by POLITICO, includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, hedge fund heiress Rebekah Mercer, investment tycoon Foster Friess and other donors who have funded the conservative Koch brothers’ network and President Trump’s campaign. Just last week, Trump weighed in on Twitter to say that DeSantis “would make a GREAT Governor of Florida.”
DeSantis has yet to formally announce his 2018 campaign for governor, but his intentions to seek the office became clear in May after he established a state political committee, called the Fund for Florida’s Future, that’s allowed to raise and spend unlimited soft money from corporate contributors.
“This sets DeSantis apart from the rest. He will have the financial resources and the ground game and the Trump base to be an incredible statewide candidate,” said David Bossie, a DeSantis backer who founded the Citizens United conservative group, served as Trump’s deputy campaign manager and just co-authored the new “Let Trump Be Trump” book plugged by the president.
Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump loyalist who is leaving office due to term limits, might run for U.S. Senate next year and usually does not endorse in contested Republican primaries.

Normally, national contributors such as Adelson and Mercer don’t get involved in state races. But DeSantis has earned their trust and become a sort of “billionaire whisperer,” said one Florida-based Republican fundraiser.
As a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, DeSantis is a frequent Fox News guest who has earned a reputation as a small-government conservative, an opponent of the independent federal investigation of Trump and a supporter of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. And donors have so far loved what they have heard.

“These big national finance givers are true believers. Donors like Adelson care about Israel, and they watched DeSantis fight for what they care about,” the fundraiser said. “They see him consistently boosting Trump on Fox. So here they have a prominent national congressman who speaks their language, pushes their issue and defends their president.”
A spokesman for the Adelsons, who own the Las Vegas Sands casino empire, said “there is no decision on the level of financial support” for DeSantis but that the husband and wife duo “appreciate and have great respect for the leadership of Congressman Ron DeSantis on numerous issues.”
Mercer’s support for DeSantis stands above the others. She manages the political giving of her father, hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, and played a key role in the Trump transition. The Mercers, top supporters of Trump’s campaign, own a stake in the conservative Breitbart media enterprise and the Cambridge Analytica data firm used by Trump’s campaign. 
Other top DeSantis finance team members include:
• Bernard Marcus, a Home Depot co-founder who has given nearly $18 million to federal campaigns and political committees since 2000, Federal Election Commission records show. Of that money, more than $7 million went to committees supporting Trump’s 2016 election.
• Thomas Peterffy, the founder of Interactive Brokers, one of the nation’s largest electronic brokerage firms. Peterffy contributed $366,200 in 2016 to two committees helping Trump’s election, according to Federal Election Commission records. Peterffy, according to a Time report, was Florida’s richest immigrant who supported Trump.
• Foster Friess, a Wyoming-based investor who has toyed with running for U.S. Senate in his home state after talking to Mercer and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Friess has given more than $4.3 million to federal campaigns and committees since 2000, with more than $2 million going to committees supporting Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign in 2012. Friess also donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in 2016.

• David A. Siegel, the CEO of Westgate Resorts in Orlando, who contributed $30,000 last year to the Trump Victory committee. Many expect the time-share mogul could start playing more in state and national politics with Trump’s election. Siegel last year said Trump’s election was “the greatest thing that's happened to me since I discovered sex.” Siegel’s wife, Jackie, said she once went on a few dates with Trump.
One name conspicuously absent from DeSantis’ list: Koch. None of the famed conservative brothers have signaled their support for him, though Siegel and other DeSantis backers, such as Dallas investor Doug Deason, are Koch network donors.
In a sign of his rising national profile, DeSantis played golf with Charles Koch in June at a Koch network retreat in Colorado. Another prominent Florida Republican who is considering a bid for governor, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran, didn’t get the same face time. While Trump’s tweet supporting DeSantis put a damper on Corcoran’s prospects, the list of top national donors supporting the congressman makes it even tougher for the state legislative leader to run as the conservative alternative to the GOP front-runner, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Though many of the big-name Republican donors who announced their support of DeSantis have yet to contribute to the congressman, his campaign-to-be is expecting their financial support in the beginning of the year to eat into the hefty fundraising advantage enjoyed by Putnam, who is widely perceived in Florida conservative circles as having a relatively weak right flank in a Republican primary.
In a state as big as Florida, where a week’s worth of saturation TV during next year’s general election could cost as much as $3 million, cash is king. And Putnam has so far reigned over both his likely and current Democratic and Republican rivals by raising his money from the major industries that do business in Florida’s capitol, such as agricultural interests, the health care industry, power companies and Disney.
With Tallahassee’s institutional GOP donors behind Putnam, a Republican candidate can hope to match him only with outside money or independent wealth, which was a key to Scott’s success in his unexpected primary win in 2010.
Including his campaign and his Florida Grown political committee, Putnam had a total of about $15 million cash on hand at the end of last month. Corcoran, who is not yet an announced candidate, had $4.7 million in the bank in his Watchdog PAC. DeSantis had about $3.6 million in the bank between his political committee and his congressional campaign, whose donors will need to sign off on redirecting their federal contributions to his state race if he runs.
Surveys conducted by Republican pollsters show Putnam leading the GOP primary with less than a third of the vote. DeSantis, depending on the survey, trails by anywhere from 10 points to 20 points. And Corcoran is polling in single digits. More than half of Republican voters say they’re not sure whom they’ll choose. But 80 percent to 90 percent of them back Trump, the polls show.
Trump’s deputy campaign manager, Bossie, said Trump’s support for DeSantis and the backing of the top donors should help DeSantis catch up to Putnam quickly.

DeSantis, 39, is a Yale and Harvard Law School graduate and served as a military prosecutor in the Iraq War before he won his congressional seat in 2012. Putnam, 43, has continuously served in elected office since he was elected to the Florida House at the age of 22, then Congress and then to the position of agriculture commissioner.
“I’m a believer that career politicians looking for the next rung on the ladder are a thing of the past,” Bossie said. “When you look at that and you compare it to the president of the United States tweeting about Ron, his hard work and his service in the military, he is a game-changing candidate.”
Putnam’s campaign is dismissing DeSantis as a Washington pol who wouldn’t stick with his bid for U.S. Senate last year when Marco Rubio decided to run for reelection after Trump defeated him in Florida’s presidential primary.
“I’m hardly concerned about a Washington insider jumping into his second statewide race in two years in desperate search of a promotion. He’s not competition, just a stark contrast to Adam Putnam,” said Amanda Bevis, Putnam’s spokeswoman.
To one of the state’s top Republican fundraisers, lobbyist Brian Ballard, the national firepower of DeSantis’ finance team is unique.

“It’s as impressive a national donor list as I’ve seen,” Ballard said. “The question for Ron is, can he motivate them to get off the list and on to raising and giving considerable dollars? If he does, it will be a huge win for him. If not, it won’t be enough to catch Adam Putnam.”
Ballard, who once lobbied for Trump and spoke recently with the president about DeSantis, dismissed criticism from others who downplayed the significance of the president’s endorsement. Though Trump’s endorsement in Alabama’s recent special Senate race didn’t prove decisive, Ballard said it’s “delusional” to believe Trump’s support in Florida’s primary among DeSantis, Putnam and Corcoran would have no effect.
“Trump’s endorsement is incredibly important,” Ballard said. “The question is, where does it go from the tweet?”

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