By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Gov. Rick Scott recently received a big check for his re-election campaign.
The check, dated June 5, was for $250,000 and was given to Scott’s political action committee: Let’s Get to Work.
The check was from Sheldon Adelson, the gambling magnate who was bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s ill-fated presidential run at one point.
According to The Tampa Bay Times‘ short write up of the donation:
Scott flew to Las Vegas to meet with Adelson during his transition into office.
Florida Power & Light also wrote a $250,000 check dated June 4, and the anti-lawyer group Committee for Florida Justice Reform contributed $100,000. The group was among the strongest advocates for the changes to the state’s no-fault car insurance law.
The money pumped into Scott’s account — about $750,000 in the last 8 days — is an excellent reminder that, despite Scott’s low approval ratings, Scott stands to pose a formidable challenge to any Democrat in 2014.
Scott’s campaign is still years away and he is already raising an impressive amount of cash. During his last campaign in 2010, Scott spent more than $73 million of his own money.
However, it was only a few months ago that Scott had told reporters he wouldn’t need to fund his own re-election campaign like he did his first campaign. His prediction might not be far off at all.
Here is what the Times reported in April:
A reporter asked the governor whether he anticipated the need to write checks for a second campaign.
“I won’t have to,” Scott said, adding: “I’m running for re-election. I like this job. This is the best job you can imagine … In this job, if you care about anybody’s family in this state, you can have a positive impact. You can impact their education system.”
Scott’s political fund-raising 527 organization, Let’s Get to Work, collected $910,000 in the first quarter of this year. Six donors have kicked in $100,000 each in recent months: Miami investor Miguel Fernandez; The Villages; Blue Cross Blue Shield; United Group Underwriters, a Miami Gardens insurance firm; the Florida Retail Federation; and a political committee controlled by the Florida Optometric Association.
Asked how much a 2014 race would cost, Scott said: ”I don’t know what it will cost, but we’ll have the money to win.”
The amount of money Scott is expected to raise is already defining his looming reelection.
Any candidate hoping to run against one of the most unpopular governor’s in the country is almost entirely written off on account of their fundraising ability.
For example, state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, has announced her desire to run against Scott in 2014.
Here is what the Sun Sentinel wrote up:
All she has to do to is develop a winning strategy that will convince the skeptics within her own party, conduct the mandatory listening tour to promote herself and then formally announce her intention to run – all before a presidential election that’s being billed as a choice between the American Way and Armaggedon.
She also has to raise enough money to fill Lake Okeechobee. There’s a long list of other Democratic wannabes who covet the post – from last-time loser Alex Sink, to perennial hopefuls Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and state Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith. Both have waged statewide races, only to lose.
If Rich manages to win her party’s primary, she then has the unenviable task of facing Gov. Rick Scott, and a state Republican Party machine that isn’t about to see their guy go down. Money will not be a problem, unless you happen to be the Democratic nominee. The Republicans have it in spades.
It’s important to note that Adelson’s donation to Scott wasn’t the most talked about donation he made recently. Adelson also gave $10 million to a pro-Romney SuperPAC. Adelson has also said he will continue to give millions to causes supporting conservative politicians like Scott.
The Wall Street Journal, which reported Adelson’s $10 million gift on Wednesday, says Adelson’s 2012 spending could eventually total as much as $100 million. Earlier this spring, Adelson said he’d be making one more “small donation”—presumably, this most recent $10 million—to a super-PAC and then would consider future giving to 501(c)(4) nonprofits that don’t disclose the names of their donors. Adelson is already the largest donor to candidate-specific super-PACs in this election cycle. He’s also now the biggest donor to outside spending groups in American history.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently survived a heated recall election, also received $250,000 from Adelson.