Republican Sen. Tim Scott boarded a plane to Hawaii earlier this year to meet with one of the richest people in the world: Tech titan Larry Ellison.
Ellison’s remote Lanai Island home was well out of the South Carolina senator’s way. But for Scott, who like the 76-year-old Ellison is an outspoken advocate for school choice, cultivating the mogul has paid dividends — and could even help propel a 2024 presidential bid. Since last October, Ellison has contributed $10 million to an outside group aligned with the senator — a huge sum even in the super PAC era and the business owner’s biggest known contribution in three decades as a political donor.
Scott’s behind-the-scenes courtship of Ellison illustrates how the senator has quietly become a powerhouse fundraiser and a major force within the Republican Party. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, has seen his profile rise since delivering the party’s response to President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress in April and is developing a vast network of small- and large-dollar donors that spans his party’s ideological spectrum, helping him far outraise Senate colleagues this year.
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