- Devon Energy co-founder Larry Nichols also will woo donors
- Aims to build broader business support for Floridian's bid
The co-founder and former chief executive officer of Devon Energy Corp. has signed on to shape energy policy for Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Larry Nichols will lead Rubio’s energy steering committee. Nichols, who cut a $50,000 check to the super PAC supporting Rubio in December, also will host a Feb. 26 fundraiser for Rubio in Oklahoma, ahead of the state’s March 1 primary.
The oilman, who helped develop the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing along with developer George Mitchell a decade ago, says he is enticed by Rubio’s view that "the path to our energy future is not through regulation but through innovation."
"Innovation is what is driving this country; it is revolutionizing our society and what we can do and accomplish, in ways that are unthinkable," Nichols said. "Excessive regulation squashes all that."
Republican presidential candidates have a long history of recruiting oil and gas industry leaders to their campaigns. Four years ago, GOP nominee Mitt Romney tapped Harold Hamm, the chief executive officer of Continental Resources Inc., to advise him on energy issues.
With Rubio, Nichols may have his work cut out for him in luring support from the industry. Many oil industry leaders are waiting until after primaries to donate. What oil money is flowing into the race has mostly gone to Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, helped by mega donations from investor Toby Neugebauer and billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, who made their fortunes from fracking.