Rick Scott Begins to Stand Alongside Republicans Like Marco Rubio
Around the State
As his poll numbers go up, Rick Scott is starting to appear alongside his fellow Republicans more, just in time for the 2014 elections.
In the lead-up to the Florida presidential primary last year, Florida Democrats mocked Scott for being a nonfactor in the heated contest between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and the other candidates. Scott, suggested the Democrats, was so unpopular that Republicans didn’t want to be seen alongside the governor.
The attacks continued as Romney went into the general election in November. Monitoring a a major hurricane, Scott stayed out of the political limelight when the GOP had its national convention in Tampa. For the most part, Scott and Romney avoided campaigning together, though Scott appeared at a rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Jacksonville during the final weekend of the campaign. The Romney team certainly relied on allies in Florida ranging from Marco Rubio to Connie Mack but Scott had, at best, a small role in his presidential bid.
Scott’s fellow Republicans are showing more signs of standing alongside the governor than Romney did. On Tuesday, for example, Scott will team up with Marco Rubio to tour Apalachicola Bay and meet with fishermen as they try to shine some light on problems the fishing industry is facing.
Rubio is not up for re-election until 2016 but he is looking to get back on track himself. While he is still one of the top Republican presidential candidates for 2016, Rubio has drawn fire from some conservatives for his support of immigration reform legislation in the Senate.
Besides the governor’s race, there should be some closely watched congressional and legislative races across Florida next year. Unpopular with government employees in Tallahassee, Scott could still be an albatross around the neck of Steve Southerland as he looks to win a third term next year. Scott could also hinder Republican efforts to toss freshmen Democrats Joe Garcia and Patrick Murphy from Congress.
But, as Rubio’s appearance with the governor shows, Scott is not as radioactive as he was only a year ago. If Scott’s poll numbers continue to creep up, Republicans, especially those heavily favored in 2014, across the Sunshine State will start following Rubio’s lead. Even Republicans facing close races might be more willing to hitch their wagons to Scott. The governor and the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) are expected to spend a great deal in the 2014 elections with buzz that Scott will spend $25 million at the start of 2014 to define his opponents. That money could help Republicans across the state.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.