Marco Rubio Gets a Big Boost From Two Loyal Billionaires

Larry Ellison and Norman Braman put their money where their mouths are.

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Two billionaires—one an eccentric ex-CEO with a striking resemblance to Tony Stark, the other a car dealer with a low public profile—have led the way in bankrolling the super-PAC backing Marco Rubio’s presidential bid. Conservative Solutions PAC brought in a total of nearly $16 million in the first half of the year, putting Rubio’s unlimited-donations group in third among super-PACs backing Republican presidential candidates, behind just Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC, which raised a towering $103 million, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Unintimidated PAC, which brought in $20 million.

Larry Ellison, the Iron Man-esque founder of Oracle, gave $3 million to Conservative Solutions PAC in the first six months of 2015, according to the group’s first filing with the Federal Election Commission, released Friday. Ellison hosted a fundraiser for Rubio in June, sparking speculation about how dedicated he was to the Florida senator. A few million might not mean much to Ellison, the world’s fifth-richest man with a net worth of $54 billion, but the fact that he is indeed backing up his support with cash is significant to Rubio.

Rubio’s super-PAC also took in $5 million from Norman Braman, a billionaire car dealer in Miami and a close ally of Rubio’s for years. A relative unknown outside of Florida, Braman is a die-hard Rubio fan willing to give significantly more than the $5 million he has already put into the super-PAC.

Until he threw his hat into the ring in April, political observers in Washington and Florida were skeptical that Rubio would ultimately challenge his friend and mentor, Jeb Bush, for the Republican nomination. Many believed Rubio would ultimately bow out to Bush and hope for a vice-presidential bid or a chance to run for governor of Florida in 2018. Even after he entered the race, that belief persisted, with some speculation that that Rubio’s bid was unserious—an attempt to make a name for himself for a future run, or maybe a VP spot—and that Rubio knew he couldn’t beat Bush.

His significant haul in the race could change that perception. Sure, Rubio’s $16 million is puny compared to Bush’s $103 million—but so is everyone else’s fundraising. And yes, Bush has 23 donors who gave $1 million or more to his super-PAC—after he specifically urged donors to keep their contributions to six figures or fewer—while Rubio has four. But Rubio has two very rich men behind him. And they, at least, don’t appear to be messing around.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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