Billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson’s new plan: Spend money on electable candidates

The casino magnate and GOP moneyman realizes that he wasted a whole lot of money on the 2012 elections

By Elias Isquith

Published March 25, 2014 3:03PM (EDT)

After spending somewhere around $92 million on Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney's respective runs for president in 2012, Sheldon Adelson, a casino billionaire and big fan of preemptive nuclear strikes, has decided to focus his political donations on candidates who could actually win. This is a major breakthrough for Adelson, apparently.

According to a report in the Washington Post, "people familiar with his thinking" say Adelson is getting serious about spending his money wisely and making his decisions not just off of "personal loyalty" but also "to help select a Republican nominee they believe will have broad appeal to an increasingly diverse national electorate."

“The bar for support is going to be much higher,” Adelson’s top political adviser, Andy Abboud, told the Post. “There’s going to be a lot more scrutiny.”

Coincidentally, Adelson is about to host former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — all of whom are considered among the GOP's most "electable" potential 2016 candidates — at his luxury hotel in Las Vegas. The meet-up is ostensibly for the Republican Jewish Coalition, but political insiders describe it to the Post as also being part of the "Sheldon Primary."

Reiterating Abboud's claim that Adelson's new strategy is to only provide an ocean of cash for not-terrible candidates, Victor Chaltiel, a GOP donor and buddy of Adelson's, tells the Post that the casino mogul “doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee."

"He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has convictions but is not totally crazy,” Chaltiel added.

So if you happen to be a Republican politician who is "not totally crazy" and interested in running for president in 2016, give Adelson a call! Provided you're in-sync with his new, groundbreaking "try to win elections" approach, you could have a shot at being the next recipient of Adelson's largesse.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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