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Presidential Hopefuls Lining Up at Texas ATM

As the 2016 presidential race heats up, Texas is again playing host to a wave of campaign fundraisers, with at least four major candidates passing through over the next month or so.

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Texas is set to experience another wave of presidential fundraising as the 2016 race kicks into high gear, with at least four White House hopefuls turning to the state that evokes endless comparisons to an ATM in the next several weeks.

The series of fundraisers highlights the perennial dash for campaign cash in Texas, more hectic than usual ahead of the 2016 election thanks to a crowded GOP field and several candidates — declared or otherwise — who can claim strong ties to the Lone Star State. 

First up in the latest round of rainmaking is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's fundraising juggernaut, which hits Houston on Wednesday. Bush's sons — Jeb Jr. and George P., the Texas land commissioner — will headline a reception aimed at young professionals that will benefit their dad's Right to Rise super PAC, according to an invitation. Many of the hosts, who include Jeb Bush's nephew Pierce, have ties to Maverick PAC, the group George P. Bush started to mobilize young conservatives. 

The next day, the campaign of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is hosting a breakfast fundraiser in Dallas to mark his birthday, according to an invitation. Among the chairmen and hosts of the event are prominent Dallas investors Tom Hicks, Robert Rowling and George Seay.

Later Thursday, the other Floridian's fundraising operation comes to Dallas for a second fundraiser starring Jeb Bush's two sons and geared toward young professionals. An invitation shows its hosts include former state Rep. Dan Branch and former Dallas County GOP Chairman Jonathan Neerman.

Then it is Texas Democrats' turn to open their checkbooks, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to attend fundraisers June 3 and 4 in Austin, Dallas and Houston. She also plans to hold a public event or events in the state to show the Democratic front-runner is working hard for every vote, even in solid-red Texas. 

A few days after Clinton's swing through the state, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is making a stop in the Rio Grande Valley, his campaign confirmed Friday. He is scheduled to attend a fundraiser June 9 in McAllen and tour the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. Among Cruz's hosts in the Valley is Edinburg anesthesiologist Lawrence Gelman, a top executive at the hospital. 

Finally, Rubio returns to Texas later in June for a fundraiser in Houston. An invitation shows one of the hosts of the June 22 event is Garrett Jackson, Mitt Romney's body man during the 2012 presidential race. Jackson, who now works in Houston, is informally organizing support for Rubio among young professionals in Texas.

The fundraisers for Rubio cost at least $500 per person to attend. That goes up to $2,700 to co-host, $10,000 to host and $25,000 to chair. Bush's events, meanwhile, are aimed at a younger crowd with more affordable attendance levels: at least $50 to get in, $500 to host, $2,500 to sponsor and $5,000 to co-chair. 

On the Republican side, the string of fundraisers continues to show some of Texas' most sought-after donors are hedging their bets. For example, Rowling was among the first major donors to Cruz's campaign, while Hicks hosted a fundraiser for Cruz last month. It was that event for which Cruz was criticized for skipping the final confirmation vote for Loretta Lynch, the attorney general nominee he fiercely opposed. 

The June trip will mark Clinton's first foray into Texas since launching her campaign last month. The other three candidates are otherwise no strangers to the Texas money circuit: The Bush fundraising machine has previously touched down in several of Texas' biggest cities, while Dallas and Houston were among Rubio's first stops after making his 2016 bid official last month. And Cruz has held several fundraisers in the state — most recently in Beaumont — since becoming the first major candidate to officially jump into the race in March. 

Abby Livingston contributed reporting.

Disclosure: Robert Rowling is a major donor to the The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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