Adelson Holding 'Sheldon Primary' to Pick Republicans to Back

Chats with casino mogul in Vegas will determine who who he puts his money on for 2016.

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Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, at his Tel Aviv birthday bash in June.
Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, at his Tel Aviv birthday bash in June. Credit: Asaf Lev

Some of the most important events to take place at the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which begins Thursday, will be one-on-one chats between conservative casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and the potential Republican presidential nominees he may agree to back, the Washington Post reported this week.

Israel will likely be on the agenda as Republican politicians converge at Adelson's Venetian casino resort in Las Vegas.

“Certainly the ‘Sheldon Primary’ is an important primary for any Republican running for president,” Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, told the Post.

“It goes without saying that anybody running for the Republican nomination would want to have Sheldon at his side," added Fleischer, who serves with Adelson on the RJC board.

The meetings with Adelson, who is worth $38.2 billion, according to Forbes, will be part of his new strategy: putting his money on a mainstream Republican who appeals to a diverse national electorate and has a clear shot at winning the presidency, people familiar with Adelson's thinking told the Post.

Most of the prospective candidates have already asked Adelson, a staunch Israel supporter who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his thoughts on Israel, the U.S. economy and the 2014 midterm elections, the report said.

Adelson's strategy is seen as favoring potential nominees such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich, all of whom will be on hand for the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting.

Another possible candidate is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Adelson Defender of Israel Award at the Zionist Organization of America's annual dinner in New York in November.

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