With Iowa in the rearview and New Hampshire just around the corner, more and more people are lining up to take official sides, and Rubio is starting to run away with the endorsement game, for whatever that is worth. FiveThirtyEight's endorsement tracker gives Rubio a clear edge over the rest of the field, as he is pulling away from the soon-to-be-departed Jeb Bush.
The latest endorsement in Rubio's pocket comes from Nevada's largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The editorial board notes that they attempted to meet with Donald Trump on a number of occasions, but were unable to do so, and so Trump was not considered. In making their decision, the editorial board touted Rubio's connection to the area, as well as his support of policies friendly to Nevada voters:
Our reasons for endorsing Sen. Rubio are many. Notably, the Florida senator has deep personal connections to the state. He lived in the Las Vegas Valley from age 8 to age 14, the son of immigrants employed by the hotel industry. The driving force behind the 44-year-old's compelling story is his family's pursuit of better opportunities and a better life. The policies he champions in his campaign are intended to provide all Americans as much.
Those policies include issues of key concern for Nevadans. For example, Sen. Rubio agrees that the federal government owns too much land within Nevada's borders — more than 80 percent — and doesn't actively and appropriately manage that land. He believes the lack of privately owned land in Nevada and across the West greatly limits economic opportunity, and he supports transferring some federal land to private ownership. "There's no need for Washington to hold that much land," he told us.
The newspaper was quick to note the obvious connection with the Sheldon Adelson purchase, but disavowed any connection between the two events:
The RJ met with Sen. Rubio on Oct. 9, two months before the announcement of the newspaper's sale to the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. The Adelsons have detached themselves from our endorsement process, and our endorsement of Sen. Rubio does not represent the support of the family.
Time will tell whether any of these endorsements, particularly from newspapers, ultimately matter in the minds of voters. Certainly the Des Moines Register's endorsement seemed to coincide with a small bump in the polling for Rubio in Iowa.
The Rubio campaign has long pegged Nevada as the state with their first realistic expectation of an outright win, and this endorsement can only help, as it coincides with his rise in the national polls.