Jeb Bush fundraiser Brian Ballard defects over attacks on Marco Rubio

in 2017/Top Headlines by

A leading Florida fundraiser who initially backed Jeb Bush’s campaign is publicly withdrawing support over Bush’s ongoing attacks on Sen. Marco Rubio.

Brian Ballard, a lobbyist in Tallahassee who donated $20,000 to the pro-Bush super PAC Right to Rise USA, told Politico on Thursday that he had privately abandoned Bush earlier but wanted to make his concerns public now to discourage him from bashing Rubio.

“The campaign has become negative, one that is about attacking and trying to bring down Marco Rubio. And that doesn’t sit well – not only with me, but with anyone who knows the two,” Ballard said. “Marco’s a friend of mine. I didn’t sign up for a campaign that was going to be negative and attack a bright star of the party’s future. It doesn’t make sense. I’m over it. And I’m done.”

Ballard’s confirmed to Florida Politics on Thursday that Ballard was switching his allegiance to Rubio. While Ballard is a major Florida fundraiser who previously backed the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney, he is not listed as one of Bush’s bundlers — supporters who have raised more than $17,600 for the campaign itself.

In addition to Ballard, Politico quoted a number of Bush supporters expressing unease with Bush’s recent criticism of Rubio’s missed votes in the Senate and lack of experience, which Bush raised in last month’s debate. Ballard complained afterward about Bush’s attacks, telling the Associated Press the next day that it was “not the kind of ideas campaign that he has promised.” An aide to Rubio told reporters in the spin room after the debate that a number of Bush donors had reached out to them that night.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.