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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jack Latvala can win


Tampa Bay Times




From today's column:

...Much of Florida's political intelligentsia view him as a long shot, which makes sense. Latvala is old school, the kind of pragmatic, generally moderate Republican today's GOP primary electorate has shunned and pilloried in recent years. He looks more like a rumpled granddad who should lay off the ribeyes and ramp up his blood pressure meds than the sort of TV-primped candidate that usually wins statewide elections in Florida.

But don't discount him.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam remains the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, but even after some of Florida's most politically active corporations have pumped more than $15 million into his campaign he has failed to wrap himself in a cloak of inevitability. Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran raised $2 million in his first month as a potential candidate. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a tea party favorite from northeast Florida with his own deep-pocketed supporters, looks increasingly likely to jump in, and many observers still see a strong possibility that a wealthy political newcomer could jump in late in the game, as Rick Scott did in 2010.

Therein lies the path for Latvala.

In a four-person race, it takes only 30 percent to win the nomination. When three of the four candidates are likely to be fighting it out over who is purest hard-right conservative, and that fourth candidate, Latvala, is a political giant in the biggest battleground region of Florida, then the Clearwater Republican no longer even looks all that much like a long shot.

"He's very smart, he cares a lot about Florida, and I don't think he's going to avoid risk if he thinks something is not necessarily the right thing to say politically," said former Secretary of State Jim Smith, a Latvala supporter. "He's got to have at least a three-person race, and the more the better."...

[Last modified: Friday, July 21, 2017 7:08am]


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