Oil billionaire Harold Hamm on Friday endorsed Donald Trump for president, calling him the “business leader’s candidate” and saying the Republican candidate isn’t his last choice, but the “best choice.”
Mr. Hamm, chief executive of top U.S. shale-oil producer Continental Resources, said in early March he would back Mr. Trump if he ended up being the nominee. He donated $1,000 to Republican rival Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, in January. Mr. Rubio dropped out of the presidential contest in March.
Mr. Trump’s resounding victory in New York’s primary on Tuesday propelled him closer to the Republican nomination and made it far harder for his rivals to block his path.
In an open letter released Friday, Mr. Hamm said Mr. Trump wouldn’t be “beholden to special interests and has the fortitude to make tough decisions,” largely because of his business background. In two different places in the roughly 260-word letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Hamm went out of his way to say that he wasn’t solicited to make the endorsement and that he wasn’t endorsing Mr. Trump simply because of a lack of other candidates, such as Mr. Rubio.
“Donald Trump is not my last choice, he is the best choice and I am proud to announce my support today,” Mr. Hamm said.
Mr. Hamm’s endorsement of Mr. Trump could compel other executives in the industry to coalesce around the billionaire businessman. Others have backed Ted Cruz, Republican senator from oil-rich Texas.
Mr. Hamm was the top energy adviser to the Republican Party’s last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, in 2012. That year he donated nearly $1 million to Mr. Romney’s super PAC a week before former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum quit the race, an exit that effectively handed the nomination to Mr. Romney.
Mr. Trump has said this week that he will adopt more traditional campaign tactics going forward, though his behavior on the campaign trail–referring to his rivals as “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” and shouting down protesters–has suggested otherwise. Last month, Mr. Trump began taking steps to build out his political operation, growing its spending on field staff and consultants.