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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What the Florida Insiders say about the mayhem in GOP primary



More than 170 lobbyists, political professionals, fundraisers and other veterans of Florida politics participated in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll, overwhelmingly predicting that Marco Rubio will lose Florida's must-win March 15 primary, that Donald Trump will be the nominee, and Hillary Clinton the next presidents. SEE HERE

Here are their comments, made before Rick Scott announced he would not endorse in the primary:

Republican: This trump thing is not as cut and dry as some pundits and politcos want it to be. There is more uncertainty than most are willing to admit.  There is a path to victory for Trump in the nomination process and a general election.  Most seem to be projecting the current situation into the future without allowing for Trump to change his behavior or some other surprises.  If we've learned anything, we need to be more humble and uncertain in our predictions. 

Democrat: Marco is in a horrible situation now.  If he sees this through until the 15th, and loses his home state, his viability for anything in the near future is practically nonexistent.  Anybody losing their home state is beyond embarrassing, even Ted Cruz won his. However, I'm sure Adam Putnam is pulling for Rubio to stay in as long as possible, lose the home state and then walk away looking weak and unelectable.

R: Marco Rubio is not ready for the biggest job in the world, and we are not ready for a Nuclear Weaponized Trump.

R: I'm a former Jeb supporter, but now pulling for Trump.  Yes, we exist.  All the talk about never supporting Trump will change really fast when he's the nominee, after all all these paid political operates want work.  If polls look bad for Rubio one week out from March 15th, he'd better drop out or risk his entire political future (yes everyone knows he wants to run for Governor as a fallback).  The wins by Cruz and Rubio only benefit Trump since it keeps them in the race and divides the anti-Trump vote.

D:Trump vs. Hillary #BestThrowDownDebatesEver

R: Is there actually anything left to say in this election cycle?  and it is only March.  

R: The political Apocalypse is upon us. Trump as the GOP nominee?!  Scott's eye has always been cast to DC, so wouldn't be surprised about a surprise endorsement at some point, although that would solidify the death of his relationship with the legislature once and for all. 

D: Talk of a contested convention for the Republicans is very dangerous. If Trump wins a plurality of the delegates, but is not the nominee, the Party will never recover in time to seriously challenge Hillary. 


R: Trump has an unbelievable and illogical base of support. People just vote for his star quality without any thought of what it takes to save this country and keep it safe. God help us!

D: If the GOP decides to ignore their own voters and use the Convention to pick a nominee other than Trump, there will be hell to pay.  If they don't understand that, then they don't deserve to win anyway. 

D: Both Trump and Clinton are flawed candidates that will not excite their normal constituency, and we are so polarized that both sides will not be able to conceive a victory by the other side.

D: If Trump does not actually get the majority of delegates needed to win the nomination then the GOP will have a contested convention. If it comes to that the party is in trouble either way as it will demonstrate there is a big split in the party. History shows us the last few times that the parties had a contested nomination they usually lost: 1976 GOP with Reagan v Ford - contested but technically not brokered because the Ford people were able to get some delegates to switch before the first vote but Ford did not have a majority going into the convention and of course lost to Jimmy Carter; 1952 Dems - three rounds of voting to get Adlai Stevenson as the nominee only to lose to IKE; 1948 GOP - three rounds of voting to get Thomas Dewey as the nominee only to lose (after being declared the winner by some outlets) to Truman. I think that Scott would be unwise to endorse Trump before Florida as it would tick off Rubio supporters - but assuming Trump wins then Scott could probably safely endorse with little political fallout for his presumed future run for the Senate.

R: Absent Kasich and Carson getting out, trump is unstoppable 

R: Terrible Dilema.  Two Awful Choices

R: I'm sure this is too crass.  But this election has echoes of a South Park episode where their school's vote for a new mascot narrowed the choices of a turd sandwich and a douchebag.

R: I have never "volunteered" on a campaign.  My involvement has always been as staff or consultant.  I and my family are volunteering for Marco Rubio because his success in FL and beyond is the only way to prevent a Trump nomination.  My care for the Republican party is a distant second to my concern for this country. A Trump presidency no matter how remote is more dangerous than Hillary Clinton or any plausible existential threat I can imagine. No, I will not under any circumstances vote for Trump or Clinton.

R: Thank you Establishmment. 

R: Collecting delegates is a bit like building a wall - it's done block by block.  Soon enough the guy on the other side can't get over.  Since Marco is really short to begin with, Donald's wall is already out of his reach.
Endorsing Trump is good politics for Rick Scott because he wants to be seen as influential within his state and also remind folks of his outsider status - which is a difficult thing to do after 6 years in Tallahassee.
Donald Trump is increasing turnout and bringing new voters to the GOP like nobody has seen in a long time.  Obama did it 8 years ago, but the difference is that today's Trump supporters are unlikely to show up on election day in November, after the media rips him apart for the next 9 months. Bring on Bloomberg/Bush!

R: Time to make the GOP Great Again!

R: Expect Hillary to begin to change her rhetoric to suggest a more moderate position on fiscal issues - where she will almost sound reasonable to a moderate-conservative Republican. Most Republicans that I know would rather give her the keys to the economy for 4 years (wince here) than give Trump access to "the football." 

R: Trump is going to knock out Rubio on March 15th and Rubio will cost himself a chance to run for Governor in 2018 after getting embarrassed in his home State.

D: If the GOP tries to block Donald at this time, it would be the end of the party. The grassroots already hates the establishment (for good reason.) The establishment hates the grassroots - but rather than trying to solve the issue - they chose to ride the wave and keep stoking it since 2010. Now they have to sleep in the bed they made. It won't be pretty. But if you thought the health care town hall revolt in 2010 was ugly, just think about what it would look like if they tried to block Trump. 

R: Maybe Trump as the nominee, we will see an aggressive voter turnout? 

R: Voting in FL started on NH Election Day and with every early state win, Trump undoubtedly recieved a boost in absentee ballot votes. Florida's WTA PPP will decide the nomination.

R: I'm resigned to the fact that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. Rubio or Cruz can't stop him. My wishful fantasy is someone would step forward as either a third party candidate or someone delegates could rally around. The meat and potatoes Republicans who are voting for Trump are blowing up this party, and it's a crying shame. 

NPA: I am moving to Costa Rica. Better Democracy.

R: Not sure how we got here, but all hail Trump.

R: With Trump winning NH, SC, and big on Super Tuesday, the die has been cast and he will be the Republican nominee. The solid week of attacks from Marco Rubio is just the warm up for when the Clinton Machine revs up to further define him as a bigoted, misogynistic, and racist entertainer.  Only then will Trump finally be toast.

D: Democrats would be foolish to underestimate or laugh at Trump. HRC is a seriously flawed candidate and neither side has a lock on this one. It's a sad day when our choices come down to this but neither the best nor the brightest want to subject themselves and their families to the shredding these candidates get from the public and the media.

R: I think what this election is proving is that you need better insiders. 

R: to win in november, republicans need to just get over it and get on with it.  you do not get any mulligans in politics or life in general, just golf!

D: The Ides of March is never going to be as bad for any politician as it was for Julius Caesar. But Marco Rubio faces some serious risks on March 15. If he loses his home state primary, that loss may well end his presidential run and damage his future prospects in Florida politics. However, if by staying in the race Senator Rubio can help to prevent the GOP from nominating Donald Trump, he may well win bipartisan admirers who appreciate his putting party and country above self.

R: I am not a Trump supporter, but if the GOP steals the nomination from Trump via a rigged convention we deserve to lose the presidency and will give rise to a viable third party.

R: This is about the most mucked up Republican primary that I have ever seen.  I've never experienced as many Republicans from all walks of life saying that Donald Trump is not a conservative, doesn't represent them, and that they won't vote for him.  Those that love him really love him.  That that don't love him, really, really don't like him.  The division over Trump even transcends the tea party vs. establishment paradigm with tea party members at odds over him.

R: Anyone who spends any amount of time outside of Tallahassee or Miami understands that Trump is going to win Florida. Rick Scott is very popular among the GOP primary voters, especially in the vote rich Panhandle. Scott has branded himself as an outsider and endorsing Trump only enhances that brand.  A Scott endorsement is good for both men. 

D: They are in a tough spot. If they wrest it from him at a convention they will lose. If they stick with him, they will lose probably in the short term and certainly in the long term. Their only option is to publicly distance themselves and vote for Hillary or no one. Lose an election and preserve your honor.

R: Marco has no business being in this race - he a great orator and so is President Obama.  He does not have the executive experience. If fact I believe we should consider changing our constitution so the minimum age to be President should be 50 years of age.  Our founding fathers didn't live long when our Constitution was originally put in place. In todays world we should elect someone who has had much more experience and at 50 you would have raised a family , built a business , experienced life and been much more world traveled.

R: Clearly, many Republicans cannot and will not support Trump.  He has been a Republican only since 2012 and he previously ran as the Reform Party candidate in 2000.  If Democratic turnout remains low and Republcan turnout high, Trump could win based on new voters who traditionally do not.

D: The risk for Republicans with a contested convention is that if Trump is in first in delegates, even if he doesn't have a majority, taking the nomination from him could cause him to bolt for an independent bid.  At best it would anger his supporters to the extent the may not show up in the fall.

D: The cake is baked.  Trump is the nominee. 

R: Rubio was his own worst enemy this cycle. Jeb would have been a stronger opponent to Trump had his campaign not been so focused on Rubio, who despite the wishes of many doesn't seem to be getting the momentum or support to win this time. The question is how many bridges did Rubio burn to get here only to end up in second or third place? 

R: Voting is a legal process, not a suggestion. We have elections and they have results which must be honored. I am no Trump fan but I must respect his wins. As a veteran campaign volunteer, I expected him to bomb in Iowa due to lack of the traditional expensive and expansive campaign organization. I was wrong and have been continuously wrong. Does this mean if Trump is the nominee we DON'T have to bang on doors and call people 24/7? They'll just show up to vote? Additionally, I am starting to buy the conspiracy theories regarding the establishment and was sickened by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan's remarks last weekend. They inappropriately used their positions. I have also been dumbfounded by Rubio's fraternity tactics these last days as his appeal has been his positive demeanor. I am saddened by the talk of stopping the nominee.  Regardless of who the nominee is, that is not the way it works in our Republic. Trump may not be the a "true" conservative but he is winner and pragmatic which seems to appeal to the majority so far. I am an American first. Majority rules in America.

R: Marco Rubio must win in Florida or it's all over, and I believe he will in a nail-biter and the go on to win the nominee. The catch is, it won't matter because Trump goes third party, dooming Florida's opportunity to seat its first president.  if Scott backs Trump, he can kiss the Senate goodbye in 2018.

R: I chose I expected Hillary would win against Trump in the poll because there wasn't an "I don:t know" option. It's not the most likely scenario but Trump could beat Hillary in the general. Too many of us "insiders" have underestimated Trump's allure and his skill in managing the news cycle. Not anymore.

It grieves me to check yes next to Donad Trump's name, but the writings on the wall. Additionally, the Republican establishment feels betrayed and they do not feel enthused to continue voting for establishment candidates (Kasich and Rubio). I'm still #Allin4Jeb

R: Millions of conservative Rs will stay home Election Day...

D: The GOP is in a very difficult spot, they have a nominee that the establishment detest, but they need his voters to win the White House and keep the Senate.  If Trump is the nominee, I think he turns off enough NPAs and moderate Republicans that he loses and they probably lose the upper chamber.  If there is a contested convention and the Republican Party insiders "take" the nomination from him, I think his voters stay home and they lose both the White House and the Senate.  

NPA: Banzai !!!!!!

NPA: A protest candidate like Donald Trump, who has thrown a spanner in the works, can get the nomination by winning a series of primary elections, but won't be elected president.  By temperament and world view, he falls well outside of the political main stream.  Recall  arch conservative R Sen. Barry Goldwater in '64 and the decidedly liberal D Sen. George McGovern in '72, both of whom suffered smashing losses in their bids for the presidency.

NPA: Trump has it wrapped up and will lose handily to Clinton.

D: I certainly expect that Hillary would win a Clinton/Trump general election, but Democrats would be making a huge mistake if they don't take Trump seriously. Florida Democrats need look no further than Governor Scott to see what happens when we don't turnout our vote. 

R: With Ted Cruz winning his home state and Rubio expected to lose his, the last hailmary left to defeat Trump is for Rubio to get out of the race before Florida and all the anti-Trumpers to get behind Cruz. Even then, it would be difficult to stop the momentum.

D: Trump is the GOP's comeuppance. Hopefully they'll evolve because of it. 

R: .....there's a very tough question which all American voters must ask themselves in this cycle; is the risk of more socialism worth the price of changing the country for the foreseeable future? It's irrelevant that Hillary has no moral compass, and Trump is a bombastic blowhard. The real issue is the nearly 50 million Americans who are unemployed and underemployed. If they stay on relief much longer the change in America will be permanent!

R: It will get brutal for the Donald from here on. He will be baited into saying something dumb that he will not receive a pass on, as he has before.  Marco must take Florida. He and Cruz are politically killing each other. Flip Hillary's lucky Iowa coin!

R: Even as a first time candidate, he's miles better than Hillary. Even if she's not indicted, she won't win. 

D: this campaign is shaping up to be a no win for the GOP. Donald Trump is a disaster for the GOP--if he wins the campaign of hate, bullying,  and insults it will hurt the chances of other GOP candidates on the ballot. If there is a brokered/contested convention and the candidate who won the support of a majority of primary voters is not nominated that's an issue that will hurt the party as well. The GOP is in a tough spot and might not be able to recover; its looking like Trump against the GOP. 

R: Trump has an unbelievable and illogical base of support. People just vote for his star quality without any thought of what it takes to save this country and keep it safe. God help us!

R: Rubio has likely already lost Florida if absentee returns mirror recent polls. He would probably have to have about a 15 point swing after Thursday's debate to win the state.

R: This will be the most written about Presidential election in history. And for good reason.

D: My thoughts: 
1 - Rick Scott's endorsement would likely do more harm than good, as I believe his negative ratings are higher than Trump's, and Trump has higher positive ratings. Anyone who would respond favorably to a Scott endorsement would already have been likely to vote for Trump; more risk than gain.
2 - If GOP has a shot at contesting the convention and prevailing, it would be wise for them to do so, especially if best assessment gives them 40% or higher chance to succeed. Best reason not to do so is if they feared alienating too many Republicans, but who would those Republicans turn to? Certainly not a Democrat. Most would remain Republicans. Those Republicans who would leave the party due to such GOP action would follow Trump (or someone like him) if he became an Independent or created a new party.  Greater likelihood of alienating the solid, reasonable Republicans, if Trump is the GOP nominee. In addition, if Trump is the nominee I suspect there will be significant instability within the GOP, so current GOP brass have much to lose if Trump is the nominee. More reason for GOP to contest the convention. Hmmmm....

R: ....if HRC isn't indited...

D: The biggest problem with a Donald Trump nomination is that he will drive voter registration and turnout across the board but with minorities and women in particular.  Democratic and Republicans voters fear Trump. Trump scares the Republicans because he's a shyster, but he scares African Americans and Hispanics more than any Republican candidate in recent history because he is considered an unabashed racist.

D: The good thing with Donald Trump is that -- if he heads into the convention with the most delegates on the first ballot (but not a majority) -- but ultimately gets denied the nomination because some deal gets cut, at least you know he'll just go away quietly and with dignity. Not!  

R: Rubio needs to be careful so he doesn't come across as trying to purposely torpedo GOP chances at WH so he can run in 2020.

D: There are Florida Republican's who praying at the RPOF alter of Jim Greer that Hillary Clinton wins.   They would much prefer to run against her in 2020  vs 4 years of President Drumpf!

D: There are Florida Republican's who praying at the RPOF alter of Jim Greer that Hillary Clinton wins.   They would much prefer to run against her in 2020  vs 4 years of President Drumpf!

D: I'm considering volunteering for Rubio this weekend. While I may not agree with him politically, we know him, and I wouldn't fear for my country or my children's future come January 20th. 

R: Not sure why the GOP establishment has not embraced Trump yet.  6 years ago, we had an other outsider millionaire run for FL Gov.  He took on a stalwart of the establishment in the primary, Bill McCollum.  When the dust settled, the establishment ended up embracing a guy who ran a company that bilked taxpayers out of over $600 million dollars in medicare/medicaid fraud.  Now 6 years later, we are at a point where another outsider millionaire is looking like the presumptive nominee for President of the Grand Old Party and the entire GOP establishment is shooting arrows at him.  This is a guy who has energized the party with many new voters (reference primary state turnout numbers). Something the GOP needs desperately.  You can say what you want about Trump.  Yes the guy has gone through Bankruptcy a few times but at least the guy has never been accused of theft.     

D: The Republican Party has no one to blame but themselves. They have created the monster that is devouring them. For two decades they have fanned the flames of racial tensions and divisiveness. The chickens ARE coming home to roost.

The month's insiders:

Ana Cruz, Ana Navarro, Cory Tilley, Kevin Cate, Tre Evers, Frank Tsamatoules, Bernie Campbell, Gus Corbella, Joe Perry, David Rancourt, Mark Ferrulo, Clarence McKee, Ben Pollara, Cynthia Henderson, Ellen Freidin, Scott Arceneaux, Barry Edwards, Aubrey Jewett, Bridget Nocco, Richard Swann, Dean Cannon, Fred Piccolo, Pat Neal, John Dowless, Christina Johnson, Ron Bilbaoo, Nick Hansen, Jim Rimes, Tim Baker, Bob Poe, April Salter, Mike Fasano, Alex Patton, Jamie Wilson, Karl Koch, Jeff Wright, Chris Dorworth, Eric Zichella, Brian Hughes, Marc Reichelderfer, Ann Herberger, Husein Cumber, Paul Mitchell, Joe Gruters, Eric Jotkoff, Pablo Diaz, Rich Heffley, Sarah Rumpf, Gretchen Picotte, David Bishop, Alan Becker, Stephen Shiver, Erik Kirk, Pete Mitchell, Matthew Corrigan, Ron Sachs, Henry Kelley, Kathy Mears, Mike Hanna, Monica Russo, Ryan Duffy, Stacy Ritter, Kirk Fordham, Trey Stapleton, Jeff Johnson, John Stemberger, John Mills, Jason Unger, Chris Kise, Chris Hand, Hayden Dempsey, Towson Fraser, Joshua Karp, Jason Rosenberg, Stafford Jones, Alex Sink, Julia Gill Woodward, Kristen Douogherty, John Konkus, Christian Ulvert, Eric Eikenberg, Dan Gelber, Nancy McGowan, Rodney Barreto, Darryl Paulson, Jack Seiler, Jason Altmire, Matthew Isbell, Steven Vancore, Apryl Marie Fogel, Jon Ausman, Cindy Graves, Doc Dockery, David Johnson, Tom Tillison, Jack Furnari, Darrick D. McGhee, Susie Wiles, Bud Shorstein, Marion Hammer, Peter Wallace, Greg Turbeville, Beth Leytham, Tom Lewis, Brian Burgess, Justin Day, Betty Castor, Mike Hamby, Damien Filer, John Morgan, Brad Coker, Ron Klein, Roger Stone, Greg C. Truax, Bob Graham, Seth McKee, Andrew Weinstein, Christian Ziegler, Richard Gentry, Stephen Bittel, Susan Glickman, Erin VanSickle, Jack Hebert, Chester Spellman, Kevin King, Ken Jones, Christian Camara, Scott Peelen, Karen Unger, Peter Antonacci, David Aronberg, Allan Bense, Mark Zubaly, Bob Sparks, Andy Ford, Chris Korge, Mike Hightower, Frank Mirabella, David Colburn, Robert Wexler, Rich Ramos, Andrew Gillum, Bill Lee, Jackie Lee, James Harris, Slater Bayliss, Fred Karlinsky, Jill Chamberlin, Gayle Andrews, Jim Cherry, Ron Gunzburger, Mary Anne Carter, Abel Harding, John Wehrung, Richard DeNapoli, Screven Watson, Chip LaMarca, Donna Arduin, Jason Roth, Scott Barnhart, Nikki Lowrey, Marty Fiorentino, Stephanie Kunkel, Dave Beattie, Bob Poe, Alan Clendenin.

























[Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2016 11:16am]


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