Conclusion: Portman would bring Romney a sizeable base of big donors from across the geographic spectrum.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune: No challenger in 2010? No matter. Thune brought in a cool $12.5 million for his race. He spent only $5 million of that, leaving him with $7 million in cash on hand, and he has already raised an additional $1.7 million toward his 2016 race. He also has a strong national profile and an established fundraising presence in places like California, Texas, Florida and Virginia, but has also raised more than $100,000 from Midwestern states like Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and Colorado. His leadership PAC, Heartland Values, was also hard at work from 2005 to 2010, raising $3.3 million. From 2008 to 2010, the PAC gave $221,000 to over 30 Republican senators and candidates around the country. This cycle, Thune’s leadership PAC donated $2,500 to Pawlenty’s campaign and recently made a $1,652 donation to Romney.
Conclusion: Thune’s clearly got a talent for bringing in cash, even in the absence of life-or-death situations, and is a demonstrated team player for his party. He could help Romney in the Midwest, outside of the traditional coastal fundraising strongholds.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: Florida is an expensive state to campaign in, as many of the 2012 presidential candidates learned during the primary. But Rubio still brought in an eye-popping $21.7 million in his Senate bid against two challengers, Republican Charlie Crist (who waged an independent bid after losing to Rubio in the GOP primary) and Democrat Kendrick Meek. Like Thune, he shows no signs of slowing down, having raised $4.5 million toward his next race. Better yet, 89 percent of Rubio’s contributions during his 2010 Senate race came from individual donors, showing that he commands loyalty from a large base of supporters. That base was mostly inside Florida, 2010, which was home to 62 percent of his individual donations over $200 during 2010. But his national presence is growing, and while he still does best in Florida, he brings in some serious cash in California, Texas and New York. His leadership PAC, Reclaim America, which he launched in 2010, has raised just over $1 million, but as of the most recent reporting deadline, June 4, it had made just $5,000 in disbursements.