Not unlike a stealth bomber, presidential candidate Marco Rubio slipped into H-Town under the radar on Wednesday for fundraising rounds that included an overflowing lunch crowd at La Griglia, the evergreen politico watering hole.
Organizers had planned on having 25 or so with deep pockets turn out for the luncheon fundraiser. But the Florida senator's draw was more than expected as the number of curious grew daily. By Wednesday morning, a total of 110 interested parties had signed on. Tickets ranged from $500 to the maximum $2,700 per person for a modest lunch of chicken paillard salad and profetiroles for dessert.
The private party space holds only 80. The extras were relegated to standing room only before adjourning to the restaurant main dining room for lunch. The crowd arrived early, mingling and grabbing photos with Rubio, then listened with rapt attention as he talked for almost 40 minutes about his political platforms and his upbringing in a working class family.
The interested parties made for an interesting group including Medistar CEO Monzer Hourani, Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez, Charles Miller, Claudia and Roberto Contreras, George Farris, Raul Romero, Daniel Wong, Brook and Mike Novelli, Don Chapoton, Ernie Cockrell, Donnie Young and Trini Mendenhall.
Of the gathering, Sanchez emailed "Today was the most mutli-ethnic event I have ever attended in my two decades of Houston politics! It was also the largest gathering of CuTex's (Cuban Texans) since the Sanchez for Mayor era. As I listened to the son of a fellow 'off the boat' Cuban immigrant talk about his aspirations for America, the thought ran through my head that it's just not Marco Rubio, but dozens of other immigrants, like myself and children of immigrants like Texas Senator Ted Cruz who have reached the highest levels in the governance of our country."
Rubio, understanding Texas' deep well of Republican political funding, announced that he would be back in November. By some accounts of the luncheon, Rubio is quickly gaining speed. "I do believe that it's time to move forward," Mendenhall said.