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Marco Rubio Is Gaining Ground in Race for Big Money GOP Donors

December 11, 2015, 6:25 PM UTC
GOP Presidential Hopefuls Address Republican Jewish Coalition Candidates Forum
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Candidates spoke and took questions from Jewish leaders and activists. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photograph by Alex Wong — Getty Images

For months, the Republican establishment has looked for a viable candidate to take on Donald Trump. When Jeb Bush floundered in the debates and the polls, conventional wisdom said that the big money donors would gravitate toward fellow Floridian Marco Rubio.

With Trump still in the lead and still scaring party leaders, it looks like that prediction is turning into reality.

Ken Griffin, founder of hedge fund group Citadel, is the wealthiest man in Illinois. This week, the Chicago Tribune reported that he was throwing his financial support behind Rubio, calling him “uniquely qualified to lead our nation.”

Griffin is switching horses; he previously donated $100,000 to support Scott Walker, who has since dropped out, and another $100,000 for a Bush political action committee. He had also already donated $100,000 to a pro-Rubio PAC.

But now he’s all about Rubio.

“I am very excited to support Senator Marco Rubio in his effort to become the 45th president of the United States,” Griffin said in a statement. “I have known Senator Rubio for a number of years and he is an inspiring, courageous and bold leader who embodies the American dream of freedom and equal opportunity for all.”

Other business people are getting on the Rubio train, too. Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer has thrown his weight behind the candidate. And Art Pope of North Carolina is also backing the Florida Senator. Pope, a former state budget director and owner of Variety Wholesalers, has said Rubio is “the best qualified candidate based on his public service and life experiences, and I agree with him on most of the issues,” according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

Trump is still leading in the polls, and he’s certainly still leading in the headlines. The Republican Party leadership, though, seems to just want him to go away. Until he does, you’ll likely see more big money donors coalescing around Rubio.