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Chris Christie lands top Florida fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke

Meredith O’Rourke, chief fundraiser for Gov. Rick Scott, is set to join the growing America Leads political committee as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his allies staff up for a 2016 White House bid.

There the well-thought-of O’Rourke will join the likes of longtime GOP staffers such as former Republican Governors Association executive director Phil Cox, who will lead the super PAC, and communications director Brian Jones, who has exhibited an exemplary nose for the ball so to speak, having advised the last three Republican nominees in a row.

O’Rourke will serve the pro-Christie super PAC as a fundraising consultant.

The Washington Post calls O’Rourke “a leading Republican fundraising operative in Florida” and who could disagree? She helped Scott raise a colossal $100 million for his re-election

Mind you, this is the Meredith O’Rourke the somewhat Scott-averse Steve Bousquet calls “an effective fundraiser with a wide network of connections to donors” and “the unseen and well-paid mastermind of Let’s Get to Work,” the key pillar to a sitting major-state governor’s unlikely electoral success.

One of the few GOP operatives who worked with the Jim Greer-era state party with a sterling reputation intact, O’Rourke has also proven that she doesn’t a direct connection to a big-name pol to raise money: her own Forward Strategies raised around $2 million in 2014.

But our readers will notice, since there’s so much political talent native to Scottworld, why isn’t it staying in Florida? If O’Rourke can win with Charlie Crist and then drub him in the money race with Scott, certainly there would seem to be a place for her in the pre-campaigns of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio (#Jebio, if you will).

From his “Louisiana Mafia” to, — well, insert New Jersey joke here — it seems the governor’s practice of importing and exporting talent out-of-state continues apace.

National campaign veterans within Tallahassee’s political elite have taken notice, including lobbyist Brian Ballard.

“The Christie campaign is very lucky to have Meredith. She’s one of the country’s best fundraisers,” said Ballard, who was Mitt Romney‘s Florida finance chair in 2009 as well as national finance co-chair for John McCain. “It’s a shame we can’t work together this time but I’m delighted for her.”

But O’Rourke and Christie do go back a ways: “Excited to be joining the team and my dear friend of almost 20 years,” O’Rourke posted to Facebook Thursday. And unlike Scottworld, this duo seems set to make national waves.

Written By

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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