Marco Rubio, now halfway through his first Senate term, has surrounded himself with presidential-level strategists and policy advisers from the outset. His political operation is run by South Carolina operative Terry Sullivan, while the Rubio PAC Reclaim America brought on former Bush-Cheney and Fred Thompson fundraiser Dorinda Moss to manage the money flow.
A closer look at Rubio’s finance reports reveal an even more sophisticated operation at work. In addition to several vendors long associated with Rubio — the TV firm Something Else Strategies and the pollsters at North Star Opinion Research — Rubio has paid hefty sums to more specialized political consultants, including $150,000 to the Republican data analytics firm 0ptimus. Also working for Rubio is digital consultant Mike Harinstein, a former Americans for Prosperity digital guru now at the firm Core Focus Consulting.
And Rubio’s political machine isn’t just waiting for the “go” order. Reclaim America ran TV ads last year for Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, while his pollster was paid for multiple surveys. If Rubio runs, he’ll have plenty more hiring to do — especially in the early states — but the core of his national operation is perhaps the strongest in the field.
Giving Rubio an early run for his organizational money is Bobby Jindal, who has formed two independent groups to push his national message: a federal PAC, dubbed Stand up to Washington, and the policy nonprofit America Next.
Like Rubio, he has a core set of consultants experienced in presidential politics. They include the pollsters and ad men at OnMessage Inc., a Virginia-based firm that has worked for Jindal for a decade and employs former Jindal campaign manager Timmy Teepell.
And the Louisiana governor has been aggressively courting national finance types, making four trips to New York City in this calendar year to compete on turf where Christie was once the overwhelming favorite, as well as trips to other major cities, like Chicago.