Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign operation has a variety of key goals, but as the cycle gets underway in earnest, the Florida Republican’s first priority was simple: raise a ridiculous amount of money.
As of yesterday, it’s mission accomplished. MSNBC’s Aliyah Frumin reported that the former governor’s super PAC has raised a staggering $114.4 million, on top of the $11.4 million Bush’s campaign itself raised in the 16 days following his formal launch.
To put this in perspective, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, raised $45 million in the second quarter, on top of the $15.6 million haul for the pro-Clinton super PAC. Those totals were widely seen as pretty impressive – initially the best of any candidate in either party – though they pale in comparison to the Bush fundraising juggernaut.
The former governor’s fundraising prowess is all the more impressive in light of the enormous field of Republican candidates – with 17 candidates vying for contributions from GOP donors, it’s that much more difficult for one contender to dominate. Bush nevertheless has more than doubled the money raised by his next closest Republican rival.
But what struck me as funny about all of this was a quote in the Associated Press report about Bush’s fundraising success.
…Bill Kunkler, a Chicago private equity executive and Bush donor, said that while the Bush name may have opened some doors, it’s Jeb Bush who closed the deal.“People have been willing to take a look, and he’s overcome the people who have said, ‘Not another Bush,’” Kunkler said Thursday. “People are looking at him as a guy who did it on his own, and who stands on his own.”
What’s amusing about this is how wrong it is.
I’m not trying to take away anything from Bush’s fundraising totals – they’re genuinely impressive – but by no fair measure is he someone who succeeded and stands “on his own.”
As regular readers may recall, the New York Times reported earlier in the year that Jeb Bush spent much of his adult life taking advantage of his family connections to advance his interests and ambitions. In Florida, people went out of their way to get close to Bush in the hopes that he’d relay messages and suggestions to his powerful relatives – which he routinely did.
When Bush decided to run for president, he quickly exploited a “wide network of donors who supported his father and brother.” Indeed, when fundraising appeals started reaching GOP donors, they were sent directly from his father, mother, brother, and even his son (an elected official in Texas). It’s consistent with a life filled with unique opportunities made available to Jeb because of his powerful last name and political legacy.
Maybe the voting public will care about this, maybe not. But either way, if “people are looking at him as a guy who did it on his own, and who stands on his own,” those people are mistaken.