Marco Rubio May Be The Big Winner of Sheldon Adelson’s ‘Unofficial Primary’

Over the weekend, several potential Republican presidential candidates met for a fundraiser in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the more noted attendees, casino owner Sheldon Adelson, may be leaning toward supporting one of the GOP aspirants.

Adelson, whose net worth is estimated at more than $30 billion, received notoriety in 2012 when he reportedly donated $150 million to Republican candidates. When asked about wealthy benefactors contributing to the political process, Adelson said in 2012, “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections,” but since others do it, he said, “I’m going to do it.”

While names such as George Soros and the Koch brothers appear frequently as the bankrollers of American politics, Adelson’s name is often mentioned as one of the big donors who can influence candidates on behalf of a foreign country through his lavish contributions. The billionaire is closely connected to Israel’s Likud Party, owns a newspaper in Israel, and endorsed the claim that Palestinians are an “invented people.”

Adelson has also publicly expressed regret for serving in the United States army instead of the Israeli armed forces. Veteran PBS correspondent Mark Shields recently harangued Adelson for “making foreign policy for the United States.”

Last week, Politico reported that Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio might have the inside track to gaining Adelson’s financial support. Although not publicly stating his support for the senator, Adelson has called Rubio “the future of the Republican Party.”

Hints that Adelson supports Rubio may also be directed by the billionaire’s anger at Jeb Bush for his reluctance to criticize family friend and longtime ally James Baker III.

However, Adelson’s support would not necessarily give Rubio an advantage in the GOP primary or the general election. Adelson donated an estimated $15 million to Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign that produced only two statewide victories. Adelson also invested millions in U.S. Rep. Allen West’s failed 2012 re-election bid as well as George Allen and Scott Brown’s Senate losses.

Regardless of whether Rubio ultimately gains Adelson, the Florida senator is already connected to at least one wealthy donor: Miami billionaire Norman Braman.

Like Adelson, Braman has antipathy for Rubio’s presidential rival, Bush. In 2004, Governor Jeb Bush vetoed $2 million in state spending earmarked for Braman’s cancer research institute. The billionaire explained that while he has no personal animosity for Bush, he was “disappointed with the veto,” which he says he was never given an explanation for.