The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Spring Leadership Meeting was held over the weekend at the Venetian Resort and Hotel in Las Vegas, with many of the leading candidates seeking the 2016 GOP ticket making appearances and catering to the organization’s wealthy constituents.
Board member, casino tycoon, and anti-online gambling proponent Sheldon Adelson, a man worth some $30 billion and one of the party’s most powerful donors, was the predominant individual names like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and former Texas Governor Rick Perry were seeking to impress.
It’s been dubbed the “Sheldon Adelson Primary” for good reason.
Gaining his financial backing and campaign support is a crucial first-step for any Republican politician’s potential run at the White House.
The mission of the RJC is to strengthen ties between the American Jewish community and Republican decision makers.
Of course, the current situation in Israel was without a doubt the most pressing topic and concern among attendees, but Adelson made no secret about his yearning to learn where certain politicians stand in relation to Internet poker.
“I’m also told that Adelson plans to ask pointed questions of the candidates on online gaming. He will want real answers, not pabulum,” Jon Ralston, Politico Magazine contributing editor tweeted.
Sen. Graham confirmed a discussion was had, but provided little insight. “I met with Sheldon,” the three-term senator said. “The one thing I’ve learned about Sheldon is if you tell people what you talked to Sheldon about, that’s not a good thing.”
So what did they talk about? RAWA of course, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act that seeks to effectively ban all forms of Internet wagering.
Adelson has stated that he’ll spend “whatever it takes,” and while the legislation has been passed over and failed to gain support from Congress, that isn’t preventing the 81-year-old from pressuring GOPers into getting behind the bill.
Aside from four speeches delivered early in the day on Saturday by Cruz, Perry, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the convention was closed to the media. However, it’s safe to assume that Graham wasn’t the only lawmaker with eyes on the presidency that met one-on-one with Adelson.
On Thursday, Adelson unofficially kicked things off with a 75-person dinner at his new 44,000 square-foot home just miles west of the Strip. 2014 GOP nominee Mitt Romney spoke at the event, while 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush concluded the Spring Leadership Meeting by delivering the keynote on Saturday night.
More than 700 attendees paid a minimum of $1,000 to attend the general sessions, and with a current membership of more 45,000, the RJC is stronger than ever according to Chairman David Flaum.
The coalition plans to run a “well-funded campaign,” Flaum told reporters regarding 2016. “We’re accumulating.”
Which candidate it backs remains to be seen, but it will likely be someone who shares not only the organization’s mission but also Adelson’s stance on prohibiting online gambling.