Senator Tim Scott has built a strong reputation in the legislature. Now, Scott is being discussed as a possible candidate for president and earning the backing of wealthy donors like Larry Ellison and Steve Wynn. Politico reports:
Republican Sen. Tim Scott boarded a plane to Hawaii earlier this year to meet with one of the richest people in the world: Tech titan Larry Ellison.
Ellison’s remote Lanai Island home was well out of the South Carolina senator’s way. But for Scott, who like the 76-year-old Ellison is an outspoken advocate for school choice, cultivating the mogul has paid dividends — and could even help propel a 2024 presidential bid. Since last October, Ellison has contributed $10 million to an outside group aligned with the senator — a huge sum even in the super PAC era and the business owner’s biggest known contribution in three decades as a political donor.
Scott’s behind-the-scenes courtship of Ellison illustrates how the senator has quietly become a powerhouse fundraiser and a major force within the Republican Party. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, has seen his profile rise since delivering the party’s response to President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress in April and is developing a vast network of small- and large-dollar donors that spans his party’s ideological spectrum, helping him far outraise Senate colleagues this year.
The pro-Scott super PAC, Opportunity Matters Fund, has drawn support from conservative donors like Richard Gaby, who has bankrolled the likes of former President Donald Trump and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. But Scott has also received backing from the party’s mainstream givers, like New York hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, a financier of gay rights initiatives who is slated to host a fundraiser bolstering Scott later this year.
With the top levels of the GOP divided over whether to remain in lockstep with Trump or break away from him, senior Republicans say Scott’s ability to win support from divergent wings of the party could be an asset should he wage a 2024 run.
Bay Area-based investor Bill Oberndorf, who has given millions of dollars to Republican causes over the years and opposed Trump’s nomination in 2016, called Scott “that rare politician who you can trust to be good to his word.”
“I definitely consider Tim to be someone who has the integrity and experience to be president of the United States,” added Oberndorf, a school choice proponent who has donated $200,000 to the pro-Scott super PAC. During the 2020 campaign, the super PAC spent more than $4 million backing Republicans in nearly a dozen races.
A Scott 2024 run is far from a foregone conclusion. The senator has repeatedly brushed aside questions about a presidential bid and has said he is focused on his 2022 reelection campaign in South Carolina, where he is a heavy favorite. And even if Scott does wage a presidential campaign, he wouldn’t necessarily be a front-runner: Many Republicans say there’s far more enthusiasm for would-be candidates more closely associated with the conservative base, like Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has been embarking on his own nationwide fundraising push, including a stop this past week in Michigan.
But that isn’t dampening GOP buzz about the prospect of a Scott presidential bid — and the prospect he could benefit from Ellison’s largesse. It wouldn’t be the first time a wealthy patron has almost single-handedly turned a Republican candidate into a contender for the nomination. During the 2012 race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was bankrolled by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by investor Foster Friess, helping them advance deeper into the contest than initially expected.
Ellison invested heavily in the 2016 GOP primary, directing $5 million to a super PAC aligned with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Now, it’s the Scott team that’s pursuing the Oracle co-founder, who according to Forbes is the seventh-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $116 billion. So far this year, pro-Scott outfits have spent at least $17,000 on Hawaii-related travel costs, including for air and ground transportation and lodging, according to financial disbursement records.
Representatives for Scott and Ellison declined to comment on the relationship.
The second-biggest giver to the pro-Scott super PAC is another prominent Republican mega-donor: Las Vegas casino billionaire Steve Wynn. During last year’s Georgia Senate runoff elections, Wynn, who is close to some of the GOP’s top strategists, gave $1 million to Opportunity Matters Fund. In the weeks that followed, the organization aired a battery of direct-to-camera ads with Scott urging supporters to get to the Georgia polls.
Action Line: Keep an eye on Tim Scott, and the entire field of possible candidates for president in 2024. America must evict Joe Biden from the White House.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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