The charade comes to an end this month for many of the 2016 presidential contenders, who have long avoided saying they are running — while they are so obviously running — in order to sidestep rules that burden declared candidates. Ted Cruz is already in. Rand Paul is expected to follow suit Tuesday. Marco Rubio has a big announcement planned a week later. The timing, like most things in politics, is driven by money. April marks the start of a sprint to raise as much of it as possible for an official candidacy before the summer reporting deadline, which lands as televised primary debates are about to get underway. Candidates who fail to show that the early big money is flowing into campaign accounts could quickly falter. One big exception is Jeb Bush. Although he is perhaps the least coy of the pre-candidates about his plans to run — and among the most aggressive fundraisers — his announcement may not come for a while.
Because of his support from big donors and the fact that he holds no federal office — unlike Cruz, Paul and Rubio, all Republican senators — the former Florida governor is ideally positioned to take advantage of massive holes that have been poked in campaign finance laws in recent years.
So long as he doesn’t say the magic words “I’m running,” Bush contends that he can raise and spend unlimited sums through a so-called super PAC under his control.
His ability to do so reflects the extent to which long-existing federal constraints on raising political cash that had eroded badly by 2012 have melted away. Though super PACs are supposed to operate independently of candidates, even that prohibition on the group’s activities disappears because Bush has not explicitly announced he is running for president.