One Reason Jeb Bush Hasn't Announced He's Running Yet? It Might All Come Down To Money
Let's just say it: Jeb Bush is running for president, right? He's held town halls in Iowa, he's addressed the Republican National Committee's Spring Meeting, and he's even had his picture taken with Midwestern little leaguers — but he still hasn't officially announced his presidential candidacy. And at this point, it doesn't seem that he'll address that (red) elephant in the room any time soon. Why? Like most things, it may all come down to money.
Currently, Bush's travels fit the bill for a typical campaign fundraising tour, but he's not actually raising money for his soon-to-be campaign. Instead, Bush and friends have formed a super PAC, known as the Right to Rise, which could raise a whopping $100 million by the end of May, according to Politico.
Super PACs remain a new political tool that candidates, campaigns, and supporters have to learn to use strategically. They were born out of a series of 2010 Supreme Court decisions, including Citizens United and SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission. Unlike campaigns, super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for a particular candidate — as long as they aren't directly involved in the campaign. In other words, Jeb Bush — as a private citizen — can raise as much money as he wants from corporations, groups, and individuals on behalf of Right to Rise. Once he announces his candidacy, however, the rules change. He will no longer be able to communicate with the super PAC or access its funds, but Right to Rise can still make its own decisions to support Bush throughout the election with ads, swag, and other goodies.
As a candidate, Bush can only accept a maximum of $2,700 from an individual or PAC, per election. (Note: The primaries and general election are considered two separate elections, making the limit for the entire campaign $5,400.) That's a far cry from the $1 million he's currently allowing his super PAC to collect from any single individual, according to CNN.
Since the major campaign finance changes in 2010, candidates and campaigns have wrestled with how to maximize their fundraising within the letter of the law. Bush's alleged approach comes as the latest trend, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also delaying campaign announcements while acting very much like candidates. OpenSecrets.org reports that in 2012, Mitt Romney's super PAC, Restore Our Future, spent more than $142 million to attack his opponents — more than any other super PAC in the game. (If Right to Rise really can raise $100 million by the end of May, it's likely the super PAC's spending will dwarf that of Restore Our Future by the time the general election rolls around.)
Although Romney wasn't known for delaying his announcement like Bush is now doing, there will certainly be similarities between the super PACs. Restore Our Future was officially co-founded and run by Carl Forti and Larry McCarthy, both of whom held important positions in Romney's 2008 campaign. Similarly, The New York Times reports that McCarthy and Mike Murphy, who worked on Bush's 1998 and 2002 gubernatorial races, will head up Right to Rise. The idea is, put someone who knows your campaign well in charge of your super PAC since you can't make decisions about it yourself once you become a candidate.
According to Politico, it's possible Bush will announce his candidacy after he returns from a trip to Europe in mid-June. For now, though, we'll keep track of his every move and quote anyway.