Sen. Marco Rubio raised $2.28 million during the first quarter across three affiliated political committees, CQ Roll Call has learned.
Adopting a fundraising strategy usually employed by national party committees and major presidential nominees, the Florida Republican set up a joint fundraising committee with his personal campaign account and his political action committee, Reclaim America.
Collectively, Rubio’s three committees ended March with $2.32 million in cash on hand after spending $1.2 million, including $700,000 on a brand new, national direct mail program that helped the senator attract 15,000 new donors. Half of the senator's first quarter contributions came from small donors.
The numbers are impressive given that Rubio is not up for re-election until 2016. He also spent the first three months of this year enmeshed in negotiations over a bipartisan immigration overhaul, a sensitive and complex effort that engenders suspicion or outright opposition in much of the senator’s political base.
Rubio is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate. His first quarter contributions included donations from individuals in all 50 states.
"It's obviously encouraging that so many grass-roots conservatives from across the country are supporting Marco's efforts to bring real conservative change to Washington," Rubio adviser Todd Harris said on Monday.
All figures were described as “preliminary” but close to the mark.
Rubio Victory Committee is the Floridian’s third joint fundraising committee, but it's the first designed to facilitate fundraising for his Rubio For Senate campaign account and his leadership PAC. Similar to how President Barack Obama and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney used their JFCs, Rubio opened his JFC in January to ease the fundraising process for major and mid-level donors as well as to make his national fundraising operation more efficient.
It allows major and mid-level donors to write one check to Rubio Victory instead of separate checks to the senator’s campaign and leadership PAC accounts. With the current federal limits, that means a contributor can write Rubio Victory a check for $10,200 for the year; married couples can write a check for $20,400. Additionally, donors that max out to Rubio Victory in 2013 are allowed to contribute an additional $5,000 to the senator’s leadership PAC in 2014.
For every dollar donated to Rubio Victory, 40 cents is earmarked for Rubio For Senate and 60 cents is designated for Reclaim America, after operating costs are paid. Rubio Victory raised $1.82 million on its own during the first quarter and spent $810,000, to close the period with $260,459 after dispersing $738,000 to Rubio For Senate and Reclaim America.
On their own, Rubio for Senate raised $27,000 during the first quarter and spent $150,000 to close the period with $1.49 million in cash on hand. Reclaim America raised $652,500 and spent $244,100, ending March with $566,000 in cash on hand. Rubio for Senate received a $329,000 transfer from Rubio Victory; Reclaim America received a $433,000 transfer.
Direct mail fundraising programs are notoriously expensive to get off the ground but can be lucrative over time if the initial prospective effort to find new contributors pays off. Most direct mail donors are small contributors who might give several small donations over the course of an election cycle. With that in mind, Rubio’s political team was encouraged that the senator’s new direct mail program brought in approximately $1 million during the first three months of the year.
Additionally, an email fundraising appeal centered around Rubio’s State of the Union rebuttal, when he memorably stopped his address mid-speech to take a gulp of water, grossed about $270,000 from small contributions. Meanwhile, Rubio headlined various fundraising events for his committees, as is standard practice.