Bush, Rubio Compete for ‘Vital’ Mormon Vote In Nevada

GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are making a concerted effort to woo LDS voters in Nevada, enticed by their reliable turnout in the first-in-the-west caucuses.

Reports National Review’s Alexis Levinson:

Rubio and Bush, in particular, seem to recognize the advantage this could offer them. They have been making overtures to Mormon leaders, and matching each other point for point in rolling out endorsements from high-profile LDS public officials.

Last week, Rubio announced the endorsement of Bruce Woodbury, a former Clark County commissioner who remains hugely influential. Woodbury is an active member of the LDS Church, and someone whose support Nevada Republicans say is helpful for any candidate. That followed the endorsement of Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison, another Mormon luminary, in May. A source familiar with the Rubio campaign says this was part of a concerted effort to win over LDS voters.

Several LDS members say Rubio’s personal story could resonate with church members. The Florida senator was a Mormon for several years as a child, joining the church at the age of eight while his family lived in Las Vegas. He has a first cousin, Mo Denis, who is a Democratic state senator in Nevada and a member of the church.

It’s not something that Rubio necessarily brings up when he talks to LDS voters, according to those who spoke with National Review, but it has been reported many times, and he wrote about it in his autobiography An American Son. Several LDS members say Rubio’s background is appealing because it suggests he understands and respects their culture and religion.