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Jewish Republican Donors Gear Up for 2016

Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush emerges as an early favorite for some

Stephanie Butnick
January 06, 2015
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks to the media on December 17, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks to the media on December 17, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tonight at a Washington, D.C., steakhouse, some of the most influential Jewish Republicans will gather to mark the commencement of the 114th Congress, which features a Republican majority House and Senate. Politico’s Kenneth Vogel reports that the Republican Jewish Coalition’s event tonight, which is expected to draw Texas senator (and 2016 presidential hopeful) Ted Cruz, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Arizona Senator John McCain, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, will also welcome rookie New York Congressman Lee Zeldin, the only Jewish Republican in Congress following Eric Cantor’s resignation this summer.

But influential Jewish Republican donors like Sheldon Adelson, who will be in attendance tonight as well, are looking ahead to 2016. Adelson and other major donors like Michael Steinhardt and Mort Klein recently met with Cruz in New York, in apparent consideration of the Texas Senator’s potential presidential bid. (The vocally pro-Israel Cruz will also be headlining at least one Passover hotel event this spring).

According to Vogel, though, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is emerging as the candidate of choice for some major Jewish donors, like Florida mall developer Mel Sembler, who chaired Mitt Romney’s finance committee during the 2012 election. “Several top Republican Jewish donors — including Sembler — are lining up behind Jeb Bush’s potential presidential campaign, as is Charlie Spies, a top GOP election lawyer who helped Mitt Romney’s super PAC raise millions from Jewish donors,” Vogel reported.

The RJC is reportedly also setting up their trademark trips to Israel for 2016 hopefuls (Chris Christie and Rick Perry have already gone), and nearer to the election will host a culled group of candidates at a forum to discuss foreign policy.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.