WASHINGTON – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is moving forward with preparations for a potential presidential bid, bringing on a new finance director and planning a fundraising swing across California next week, CNN has confirmed.
Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the GOP outside group launched by Karl Rove, is joining Rubio's political action committee at the start of the next month and would serve as his finance director if he runs in 2016.
The director of the University of North Florida's Public Opinion Research Lab, Michael Binder said Rubio's latest move can be called a clear, concrete step toward Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Very successful, so she's kind of a big name," said Binder. "This is a serious move in the direction of running for President. "
He's also planning to miss votes in the Senate next week to take a fundraising trip through California, and will visit the early presidential primary states next month. In February, he has fundraising stops in Texas and Chicago planned.
Jeb Bush seems to have started the ball rolling. The former Florida governor made a similar decision last month. Director of Jacksonville University's Public Policy Institute Rick Mullaney said potential Republican candidates may feel pressed to make their move early.
"He was very quickly gaining support and he continues to build support for his campaign," said Mullaney. "The others saw this happening, and to preserve the option, really had to start doing something in January."
Director Michael Binder said Jeb Bush's move to campaign may actually prove not to be a distraction for Rubio.
"Does having Jeb Bush in the race make it more difficult for Rubio? Yes, I would think so," said Binder. "Certainly from some of those donors in Florida, however Rubio has been in the game the last ten years. Where's Jeb Bush been? He hasn't been."
The news comes as Rubio plans to huddle with advisors and supporters in Miami this weekend to discuss his next steps. The Florida senator is up for re-election in 2016, and has said he'll only run for one office.
Mitt Romney and Chris Christie seem to be taking similar steps, and Republicans hope they will have a much stronger lineup of choices when the first primary arrives.