Politics

Is This the New Rubio Super PAC?

Fla. senator must raise cash quickly ahead of fast-approaching primary

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced Wednesday that he was running for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Does Marco Rubio's Senate campaign already have an accompanying super PAC?  

The Federal Election Commission reported Wednesday the creation of the Florida First Project , a new super PAC that listed a Tampa address.   

The timing of the group's creation will raise eyebrows, given that it came on the same day that Rubio announced he was running for re-election. Supporters of the senator had reportedly been told over the weekend to prepare for his return to the campaign trail, so it's possible Rubio allies moved pre-emptively to lay the groundwork for a new group.   

The sole name listed on the report also offers another connection to Rubio. Nancy Watkins, a Republican operative based in Tampa, is listed as the super PAC's treasurer.   

She was also the treasurer for Rubio's presidential super PAC, Conservative Solutions PAC.   

Watkins is the treasurer for a number of super PACs, so her inclusion in the group doesn't necessarily mean it's a group that plans to support Rubio.   

In a brief interview, she declined to say who created Florida First Project or why it was created.   

The group could also conceivably support Rep. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out of the Senate race Wednesday to seek re-election in his Jacksonville-area House seat.   

But the creation of a super PAC backing Rubio would make sense. He starts his Senate campaign with only four and a half months left before Election Day, with a presidential fundraising account nearly $1.9 million in debt .    

He also faces a primary on Aug. 30. And though Rubio is a heavy favorite, one of his primary rivals, Miami-area developer Carlos Beruff, is promising to spend as much as $15 million  to win the Republican nomination.   

Raising cash fast is likely a top priority of Rubio and his allies, a process made much easier the uncapped contributions of super PACs.   

Conservative Solutions also had $1.7 million left over in its account at the end of May, FEC reports show, money that could be legally transferred into the new super PAC.  

Contact Roarty at alexroarty@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @Alex_Roarty.

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