Huizenga endorses Rubio for president

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga is endorsing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president in the crowded 2016 GOP primary field and will co-chair Rubio’s campaign in Michigan with Rep. John Moolenaar.

The Rubio campaign announced Huizenga’s endorsement Tuesday and the formation of a leadership team in Michigan ahead of a Dec. 9 fundraiser the senator will attend in Bloomfield Hills.

“Marco’s plan for a new American economy will create good paying jobs here in Michigan and strengthen our nation’s economy,” said Huizenga, R-Zeeland, in a statement. “I look forward to helping Marco win Michigan.”

Moolenaar, R-Midland, endorsed Rubio in September.

The Detroit News reported Monday that Republican financier and businessman John Rakolta Jr. is moving into Rubio’s camp after initially donating a maximum $2,700 contribution to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Rubio picks up support of area business leaders

Huizenga and Moolenaar’s decision to co-chair Rubio’s campaign in Michigan along with Rakolta’s involvement marks the first effort to challenge the campaign infrastructure and fundraising prowess Bush’s supporters have built for months in Michigan.

Rakolta co-chaired former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s national fundraising efforts in 2012 when he won the Republican nomination. Rakolta also was Romney’s finance chair in his failed 2008 campaign for the GOP nomination.

Rakolta is co-chairing next week’s fundraiser for Rubio with venture capitalist and philanthropist Phillip Fisher, Deloitte LLP executive Mark Davidoff, Bloomfield Hills real estate investor Joey Agree and their wives.

With Michigan’s March 8 primary being less than 100 days away, the state’s top Republican politicians are not united in who should be the party’s nominee for president in 2016 against presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, recently joined Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham in backing Bush for the GOP nomination. Attorney General Bill Schuette is chairing Bush’s Michigan campaign.

Retiring Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, supported former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiornia after her appearance at the mid-September Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island that attracted five candidates.

Third-term Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, kicked off the endorsement process in May by supporting fellow libertarian-leaning U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Amash also had backed Paul’s father Ron during his runs for president.

Republican U.S. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, Tim Walberg of Tipton and Dan Benishek of Crystal Falls in the Upper Peninsula have yet to endorse in the GOP race.

(517) 371-3660