Adelson’s LVRJ Endorses Marco Rubio

Sheldon Adelson and Marco Rubio: the Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal has endorsed Rubio for the Nevada Republican caucus in February, claiming the casino magnate had no influence in the selection. (Image: salon.com)

Republican presidential contender Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has garnered support from a major Nevada news site, but the endorsement will not come without some controversy.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ), the Silver State’s largest newspaper, announced that it’s throwing its weight behind Senator Rubio for Nevada’s Republican caucus on February 23rd. Rubio is a co-sponsor of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the federal bill that would make online gambling totally illegal across all fifty states.

In an editorial published last Friday, the LVRJ said it would be supporting the conservative-values senator for his “sensible” policies on immigration, healthcare, energy, and the economy, as well as his commitment to entitlement and tax reforms.  

It also cited his “deep personal connections” to the state of Nevada. Rubio lived in the Las Vegas Valley from the ages of 8 to 14 as the son of immigrants employed in the hotel industry. In agreement with the Review-Journal, said the editorial, Rubio believes that the federal government owns too much land in the state, “stifling economic opportunity.”

The newspaper underlined that the endorsement does not represent the support of its new owners, the Adelson family. The family had “detached itself from the endorsement process,” it said.   

Mystery Owner

Adelson has yet to confirm his own GOP endorsement officially, but is said by political observers to be leaning heavily towards Rubio. The two men met in December at the offices of the Venetian in Las Vegas, according to news site Politico, where Adelson “heaped praise on Rubio’s performance while he discussed the dynamics of the 2016 race.”

In December, Review-Journal reporters were informed in a staff meeting that the newspaper had been bought out by a mystery owner and were told “not to worry” about the identity of their new boss but instead to “focus on [their] jobs.”

They did, and within a week, leaks had unmasked Adelson and his family as the new  LVRJ boss. There were concerns that Adelson was using the Review-Journal to buy political capital, especially since he had paid well over the market value for the newspaper.    

It’s an accusation the casino mogul has strenuously denied, promising that the Review-Journal’s editorial content would remain unbiased, a contention that’s been challenged by Politico as well.

New Editor and Publisher Appointed

Within weeks of the purchase, editor Mike Hengel had resigned from his position, stating that his relationship with the Adelson family would be “adversarial” and that it would be better to let them choose their own editor.

The newspaper’s publisher, Jason Taylor, followed Hengel out the door shortly afterward, although the reasons why were unclear. Both men have been replaced with fresh faces by the new owners.

Meanwhile, the spirit of rebellion in the newsroom that greeted Adelson’s purchase appears to have faded, with journalists stating publicly that they fear for their jobs.

“Senator Rubio is best-positioned to advance from the primary season and allow the GOP to win the White House on Nov. 8. Nevada Republicans should plan to caucus Feb. 23 and pledge their support to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio,” concluded the editorial.