NFL owner Stephen Ross launching Florida PAC

June 24, 2013

Real estate mogul and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is the latest billionaire to take a page from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s playbook, forming a Florida-based PAC that will support Gov. Rick Scott’s reelection effort and make what sources are calling a “nonpartisan effort” in certain state races.

The move comes on the heels of a loss Ross took in an effort to get the state Legislature to approve allowing a public referendum on a one-cent increase in the Miami-Dade County hotel bed tax to fund a multimillion-dollar overhaul of the Dolphins’ stadium. House GOP Speaker Wlll Weatherford, an increasingly visible force in Florida politics who had been a skeptic of the project, let it die without bringing it to a vote in the House.

Ross spent nearly $10 million on the failed effort, sources said.

Ross, who has said Weatherford lied to him about allowing the tax measure to be voted on, is now dropping money into a PAC he’s calling Florida Jobs First, which a source close to the developer said will play in primaries in both parties and also take on incumbents in all parts of the Sunshine State.

Unlike Bloomberg, who has made social issues the primary focus of his spending and has spent money nationally, Ross is keeping it local, but he is doing it with other donors.

Most interesting is both Ross’s planned aid to Scott, who is one of the most embattled Republican governors in the country and is likely to face former governor — and former Republican — Charlie Crist if he runs for reelection in 2014. But Ross is clearly motivated in part by a desire to hit Weatherford.

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