Rubio Hauls in $3.6 million

If you’re looking for an NCAA basketball-type Cinderella story in this year’s elections, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is your guy.

Rubio’s campaign announced Wednesday that he had raised $3.6 million in the first quarter of 2010 for his U.S. Senate GOP primary contest against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, proving that conservative candidates can credibly challenge the party establishment.

Remember last year? In July 2009, a Miami-Herald headline captured the uphill battle facing Rubio from even members of his own party: “Marco Rubio’s fundraising numbers cast doubt on Senate bid, fellow Republicans say.”

The article continued, “Rubio’s announcement Tuesday that he raised just $340,000 had Republicans questioning his ability to compete.

“It’s hard to call him credible when he only raised that much in his first quarter… No candidate wins if they’re outraised ten-to-one,” said Republican consultant Jamie Miller of Sarasota.”’

$340,000 is a big difference from the $4.3 million Crist raised during that same time period. But Rubio’s rebound in the fundraising battle shows that a hard-working candidate and people who are truly fed up with the status quo can have an impact.

Rubio’s story shows that when the right candidate comes along who espouses conservative principles and can articulate them well, the American people collectively can shell out just as much as the Kennedys.