Rand Paul

Will Rand Paul Be Able To Deal With Neocon Money if He Runs in 2016?

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Credit: Gage Skidmore /wikimedia

Over at The Week, Michael Brendan Dougherty has written about the very well-financed opposition Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) may face from neoconservative Republican donors once his widely anticipated 2016 presidential campaign begins.

Last month, TIME magazine's Zeke Miller reported that some donors at the Republican Jewish Coalition suggested Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, was prepared to spend "vast sums" if it looked like Paul was in a position to do well in the primaries. According to Miller's reporting, one former Mitt Romney bundler, who believes that a Paul nomination would be "scary," thinks that the Kentucky senator could win the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Dougherty believes that a Paul nomination is unlikely without so-called  "'Paul bundlers,' 'Paul angels,' and 'Paul-billionaires'":

Perhaps the Paul camp would welcome such a unified opposition. After all, it would grant his us-vs-them fundraising campaigns quite a bit of legitimacy. Surely, his grassroots-savvy team could light a few money-bomb campaigns with that. But does even Paul believe that a presidential campaign can run on $100 checks sent in by hepped-up liberty advocates?

To win, Paul and his anti-interventionist cadres must develop a fundraising apparatus as well-organized, as active, and as deep-pocketed as the one he faces. Until the media is buzzing about "Paul bundlers," "Paul angels," and "Paul-billionaires," I wouldn't bet on him winning the GOP nomination.

Slate's Dave Weigel asked at the end of last month, "Could the shadowy network of Rand Paul's old fundraising machine sink his presidential ambitions?" Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty wrote about Weigel's article, saying that the answer to Weigel's question is "probably not."

Although Paul might not have the support of any "Paul-billionaires" yet, he is enjoying popularity. Paul topped the list of possible Republican 2016 contenders in a recent CNN/ORC International survey, something his father never managed to do, and won last month's CPAC straw poll. Last month Paul also won a 2016 poll conducted by the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference.

Of course, popularity this far ahead of the race doesn't mean Paul will necessarily clinch the GOP presidential nomination. While some may be pleased with Paul's success at the most CPAC straw poll it is worth remembering that four of the last five winners of the poll have had the last name "Paul."

However, Paul's appeal does reportedly have some neonconservatives worried, which, as I have said before, is a sign he's doing something right.