‘Sheldon Primary’ Opens at Venetian – Host Rides Maybach to Dinner

Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., leaves a news conference at the 11th CLSA Japan Forum in Tokyo on Feb. 24, 2014.

Remember the Republican National Convention?

Fuggedabout it.

The real screening of potential Republican Party candidates is taking place in Las Vegas, starting with a private “VIP” party in the private airplane hangar of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson,  the 10th richest person in the world.

That’s where Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, son of one president and brother of another, appeared as the featured speaker last night — at Adelson’s McCarran International Airport hangar, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz calls the so-called “Sheldon Primary an event emblematic of how warped the system for financing presidential elections has become.”

Bush is in town for the weekend conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Venetian hotel, one of the properties of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., the world’s largest casino company.

Adelson, worth an estimated $36.5 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, put about $100 million of his own money into the Republican Party’s 2012 candidates, starting with his support for Newt Gingrich’s bid for the presidential nomination and closing with his support for the party’s nominee, Mitt Romney.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be there, fresh from his “clearance” of any involvement in the “Bridgegate” scandal back home. Lawyers hired by the governor’s office this week cleared Christie of any prior knowledge of the lane-closings at the George Washington Bridge last fall that clogged the traffic of a town whose mayor hadn’t supported the governor’s reelection. His deputy chief of staff ordered “some traffic problems” in Fort Lee, N.J. A federal probe of the matter continues, however.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be there, too.

Vice President Dick Cheney is the keynote speaker at the RJC’s spring leadership conference in Vegas, which will allow Adelson a chance to start thinking about where he wants to place his bets in 2016.

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