Even with an expected haul of at least $1 million and more than two dozen Tampa Bay Republicans pledging to deliver at least $25,000 apiece to Jeb Bush's private Tampa fundraising reception today, the event could actually feel like a letdown compared with other recent events.
The minimum price per ticket to see the former governor and all-but-announced presidential candidate at Tampa's Grand Hyatt is $1,000 — a steal compared with the $100,000 entrance fee to recent fundraising receptions in Manhattan, Chicago and Palm Beach.
Republicans say the Bush campaign team is aiming to raise an eye-popping $100 million for his Right to Rise Super PAC, which can accept donations of any size.
Bush, meanwhile, is careful to repeatedly stress that he has not yet decided whether to run, because once he declares his candidacy he faces restrictions on how directly he can work with Right to Rise.
Public opinion polls of likely Republican voters may not have Bush positioned as the runaway frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but $100 million in a campaign account by April is sure to give other potential rivals second thoughts about challenging him for the nomination.
Right to Rise has set special tiers for the most elite fundraisers: People raising at least $500,000 by March 31 will be on the Super PAC's "national executive committee"; people raising at least $250,000 will be on its "national committee"; raising $100,000 lands you on the "state executive committee," and raising $50,000 earns a spot on the "state committee."
Tampa Bay residents hosting the Right to Rise 5 p.m. Tampa reception and who have pledged to raise or personally donate at least $25,000 include: Dorothy and Carlos Alfonso; Joyce and Rick Baker; Carol and Barney Barnett; Michael Baumann; Tom Bernett; Tate and Blake Casper; Cornelia and Dick Corbett; Jan and Don DeFosset; Joey and Bill Edwards; Kennedy and Martin Garcia; Charlotte and Bill Horne; Mary and Tom James; Kim and John Kirtley; Elaine and Kevin Kauffman; Suzanne and Jim MacDougald; Pam and Les Muma; Betty and Mel Sembler; Debbie and Brent Sembler; Kathleen Shanahan; Chris Sullivan; Nina and Trey Traviesa; Joyce and Ron Wanek; Courtney and Will Weatherford; Laura and Joe Williams.
Meanwhile, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, will have her own show of support in downtown Tampa as Bush and his allies gather at the Grand Hyatt.
Ready for Hillary, a Super PAC formed in 2013 to build a grass roots fundraising and organizing network and encourage her candidacy, is scheduled to hold a low-dollar — $20.16 — fundraising reception at Mise en Place restaurant in Tampa starting at 5:30. The would-be candidate won't be there, but organizers want to generate excitement and build a list of supporters that can be turned over to a campaign once it starts.