Winners and Losers of the Florida Primaries

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: August 27, 2014 3:55 AM
Marco Rubio, Alex Sink, Jeb Bush

Marco Rubio, Alex Sink, Jeb Bush

There wasn’t much drama in Tuesday’s primaries, with little to take interest in at the state level as Rick Scott and Charlie Crist cruised in the gubernatorial primaries and George Sheldon beat Perry Thurston to become the sacrificial lamb thrown at Pam Bondi in November.

Despite that, there were some major winners and losers across the Sunshine State after the smoke cleared.


Thad Altman: It seems that every two years, the buzz grows that Bill Posey will be leaving Congress and Republicans all along the Space Coast plan to line up to run. Altman is the subject of some of that congressional speculation and he proved on Tuesday he will be a major factor if Posey leaves Washington anytime soon. Altman beat primary opponent Monique Miller by a 2-to-1 margin, showing once again he is much more popular than other Republicans in the area, including John Tobia who had a much harder time in his primary against Tim Street.

Jeb Bush: The former governor has angered conservatives in recent months with his support for Common Core and his position on immigration, attacking Arizona for its law and breaking with the GOP on the matter. But Bush remains the darling of Florida Republicans as was seen once again on Tuesday. Bush helped Carlos Curbelo to an impressive victory over a crowded Republican primary field looking to take down Joe Garcia in South Florida. In Central Florida, Bush was even more of a factor, helping propel Carol Platt to a primary win as she prepares to take on Alan Grayson. Bush rolled the dice by backing candidates in crowded primaries and it paid off beautifully.

John Cortes: The biggest upset of the night was pulled off in Osceola County where this former New York City police officer was outspent by more than 5-to-1 by Ricardo Rangel. It didn’t matter. Cortes worked hard and beat out the freshman state representative in the primary. While he doesn’t have much in the bank, Cortes will now find many more doors open for him since this is a secure Democratic district.

Alcee Hastings: Love him or loathe him, the longtime congressman shows no signs of going away. He had two high-profile opponents in Jean Enright and Jameel McCline and he still ended up with 79 percent of the primary vote. Hastings won’t be leaving Congress anytime soon.

Marco Rubio: Backing Julio Gonzalez in an open primary against Richard DeNapoli in what appeared to be a competitive primary for an open Florida House seat was a bit of a gamble for Rubio. But Rubio showed no signs of backing down and cut a TV ad for Gonzalez. Rubio showed he remains popular in Florida, helping Gonzalez to a big win on Tuesday night. Besides that, Rubio was smart enough not to help old ally David Rivera’s comeback attempt in South Florida.


Jorge Bonilla: This Republican congressional hopeful made a major mistake by trotting out endorsements from Dana Loesch and Michelle Malkin which trashed Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Instead of helping his campaign to take down Alan Grayson, Bonilla drew heat from primary opponents Carol Platt and Peter Vivaldi. Bonilla bobbed and weaved before walking the endorsements back. Platt, who had Bush’s support, crushed Bonilla by almost 25 percent on Tuesday night, a sharp reminder that the former governor remains pretty popular with the GOP faithful in Florida.

House Democrats: Not exactly a stellar night for the Democratic caucus in the Florida House. Leader Perry Thurston was blown out by George Sheldon in the attorney general primary. Incumbent Ricardo Rangel lost to John Cortes in the primary despite outspending the challenger 5-to-1. After being run over in the special session earlier this month on redistricting, some vulnerable House Democrat incumbents -- Dwight Dudley, Linda Stewart and Carl Zimmerman come to mind -- have to be concerned their GOP opponents had no problems in Tuesday’s primaries.

David Rivera: The former congressman had been a proven winner in South Florida for almost a decade -- but now he is a political joke. Rivera made a last-minute announcement that he was going to run in the Republican primary to challenge Joe Garcia. But then he changed his mind and suspended his campaign, talking about running for a Florida House seat in 2016. While this was going on, Rivera kept running robocalls asking voters to back him in the primary. Rivera soon said he was running in the primary even as his legal problems continued to mount. When the smoke cleared, Rivera took a pathetic 7.5 percent in Tuesday’s primary, finishing a distant fourth in the five-man field. Rivera’s done and his legal problems aren’t going away.

Jake Rush: The Gainesville attorney became something of national laughingstock earlier this year when photos of his vampire role-playing hobby drew attention. Rush never recovered, attacking Ted Yoho on too many fronts, claiming the congressman was behind the story but dashing off to Stephen Colbert’s show to laugh about it. Later on in the campaign, Rush screamed nepotism over Yoho’s son working as a congressional intern. The problem there was Rush has been working for his father. By the end of the campaign, Rush was going all out against Yoho and had nothing to offer besides an unending series of attacks. By the end of the campaign, Yoho appeared stronger than ever, taking 79.4 percent against Rush. For the short term at least, it’s tough seeing how Rush comes back from this disastrous campaign.

Alex Sink: The former state CFO who lost to Rick Scott by the skin of her teeth continued her fall from power on Tuesday. After blowing it against David Jolly for an open congressional seat this year, Sink spent Tuesday campaigning with her former employee Sean Shaw as he ran in the Democratic primary for an open House seat. Not only did Shaw lose to Ed Narain in a major upset, Sink went after Scott in crass terms on Tuesday, repeatedly calling out the governor for his “bullsh--” in a media interview. Instead of being a factor in the gubernatorial primary or angling for a rematch with Jolly, Sink proved she could not help a Democrat win a primary contest in her own backyard in Tampa Bay. Increasingly, she is looking like a spent force in Florida politics.  

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (5)

The Trouble of it is
4:13PM AUG 27TH 2014
AUSTIN, Texas— Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his rising-political-star son, George Prescott Bush, urged Texas to dismantle the “monopoly of public education” by dramatically expanding access to charter schools (many of whom are owned by Bush Muslim friend and partner GULEN), embracing online learning and overhauling how teachers are evaluated.
But neither man offered any hints about his political future.
Jebr Bush, who is often mentioned as a possible contender for president in 2016, told an education forum organized by the Texas Business Leadership Council, “I urge you to be BIG AND BOLD, and if people get offended, so what?”

“Politics can’t always be like mamby-pamby land,” said Bush, who said America’s public schools have for too long been organized to best suit the “economic needs of adults” such as unionized teachers and school administrators, rather than students.

Floridians have always known that Bush feels this way, but he never dared dropping this kind of Hateorade in a place where a Florida reporter would hear it. Speaking in a state more red than a Radio Flyer, Bush knew this red meat would play well.

But Bush’s rhetoric is becoming easier to fact check and dismiss. Yesterday’s release of the prospectus from one of his top financial backers in Pearson, revealed which adults were having their “economic needs” met. The “monopoly’ that exists now is controlled by Bush’s cartel of backers.
What Jeb Bush show is complete without some overplay of the Florida model? Bush didn’t disappoint:
Bush said that the Florida Virtual School, the nation’s oldest and largest vendor, now offers 400,000 courses via Internet, and 45 percent of Florida students currently are enrolled in charter schools, online classes or some other form of learning other than traditional public schools…. …and this. He forgot to mention his Brother Neil and IGNITE LEARNING ! with Mom and Pop Bush (41) their Saudi Prince Muslim friend and a Russian Mobster for investors!

But Bush said public schools here and elsewhere have become “a public, unionized monopoly” and that the only way to weaken it is to expanded school choice while tightening teacher evaluation standards and limiting tenure.

Bush probably left through the side door without taking questions like he did after parting the waters inside the Florida House two weeks ago. His act doesn’t work if he has to entertain tricky questions about the “imploding” of Florida’s accountability system that legislators are having to deal now. Nor does he want to admit that his hand-picked education commissioner, Tony Bennett, first forced to talk Plan B on Bush’s common core initiative that Pearson was going to cash in on with PARCC tests and finally being forced out of Florida Education Commissioner, although we are sure Jeb Bush and his Bushwhackers simply moved him to another state to carry their torch.. Even in Indiana where Tony Bennett once ruled, republicans are halting common core. Same story in Alabama. Bush twisted choice ideals benefit his financial backers. But he doesn’t want states to have their own choices on curriculum. The jig is up on Bush’s choice for me and not for thee.

He inflates the percentage of students enrolled in the options of his choosing without telling Texans that a plurality of those students are enrolled in an online class because he rammed through a mandate that required it for graduation. Moreover, a shocking number of high school students – victims of his test-based curriculum – are enrolled in online credit recovery classes which all are run by other financial backers of Bush. Much of the expansion of charter schools in Florida has been leveraged by legislative fiat that Bush’s foundation authored.
Bush’s reforms in Texas don’t enjoy the easy path that they do in Florida where he still controls the Republican party along with his Hospital partner Rick Scott who with Richard Rainwater saved Jeb’s 1987 Medicare Fraud industry at International Medical Centers and rolled it into Columbia/ HCA. After Rick Scott and Jeb was caught again in 1997 in their second largest Medicare Fraud in US history, Jeb and Bush family investors (Fidelity) flipped Columbia/ HCA into TENET Hospital’s. Today John E. (JEB) Bush is the sole director of Tenet Hospitals. Their Medicare Hospital fraud schemes which started with Miguel Recarey, Jr. and HMO, Inc. funded by Tampa born mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. rolled into IMC; Columbia/ HCA and Tenet Hospitals have now come full circle back to the full control of Jeb Bush.
And in January 2015 Jeb’s son George Prescott Bush will become the Texas Land Commissioner. The job description of which is. He is in charge of all Texas State Lands oil leases. And he is in charge of the State of Texas Schools state budget!

And with the Bush boys Texas Democrats helping them get rid of Rick Perry who was already not seeking reelection as Texas Governor and was again eyeing the 2016 presidential spot for which Jeb Bush intends to be drafted (after he and his gang take out all the competition) George Prescott Bush will move closer to Governor of Texas – with family friend Barack Obama filling the US with undocumented Hispanic voters – that will put the Hispanic cloned George P. Bush one step closer to the white house – which is the plan after his daddy Jeb serves his eight years!
George Blumel
12:53PM AUG 27TH 2014
Jeb deservably built a strong reputation as having improved education in the state. So now when he backs Common Core, a one-size-fits-all dumbing down and indoctrination program on a national basis those who aren't familiar with Common Core think it must be a good thing. That should change with more exposure.
11:45AM AUG 27TH 2014
And where is the big article on the biggest race of the primary - the gubernatorial?

Looks like the fraudulent robo calls to Democrats imitating Crist spouting Republican talking points did not have swayed Dem voters. But it did inspire them to fight against Scott.
9:47AM AUG 28TH 2014
Surely, you jest - or have been asleep for the past ten years. Chain-Gang Charlie said every word himself. Those were taken from press conference records and video clips. You know better than to try and deny that!
11:27AM AUG 27TH 2014
We always voted for Pam Bondi until she made her stance known towards medical marijuana. We believe she will fall this November because she turned on the very people that believed in her, that matters.

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