The Buzz: Political insiders think Marco Rubio might run for governor

Published December 21 2014
Updated December 21 2014

It's not an ideal pitch for someone running for the Republican nomination to succeed Barack Obama in the White House: "Elect me, a charismatic, young first-term U.S. senator with no executive experience, but a great speaker!"

No, that's not exactly how Sen. Marco Rubio sells himself, but the similarity between his resume and Obama's has a lot of prominent Republicans questioning whether the time is right for Rubio, 43, to run for president. It may also be why even before Jeb Bush took a big step toward running for president, so many politicos in Tallahassee have been speculating not about Rubio's presidential prospects in 2016, but about his gubernatorial prospects in 2018.

So we conducted another Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll last week focused on presidential prospects.

Only a quarter of the 153 sharp experts on Florida politics — campaign consultants, fundraisers, former elected officials, academics — expect Rubio to run now that Bush appears all but in the race, and at least eight in 10 see Bush as stronger than Rubio in both the primary and general election.

More than one-third predicted Rubio will run for governor in 2018, either after winning re-election to the Senate in 2016 or after leaving the Senate after 2016.

"Racking up a lengthy (Senate) voting record in the likes of Mondale, Kerry, McCain won't help if he one day runs for president. Rubio needs executive experience," one Republican said.

And another: "Although the Senate seems to be an ideal spot for someone seeking a national voice in politics, it is a dead end for those with presidential aspirations. I see Rubio running for governor to establish chief executive credentials, or becoming a talk show host on radio and/or TV to earn money and broaden his national credentials."

Still another Republican insider doubted it:

"Now that he is in the majority, Marco will likely find the Senate is not such a bad gig after all. That, and the challenges presented by trying to first tell everyone you want to be a senator and then the day after the election telling everyone you want to be governor (e.g., Charlie Crist), should keep him in D.C.

Check tampabay.com/buzz for more on our latest Florida Insider poll, including the names of the 56 Democrats, 87 Republicans and 10 others who participated.

Crist insider talks

Check out Crist's campaign manager, Omar Khan, on Political Connections today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9. We have a hunch not everyone will agree with at least one of Khan's assessments of Crist's campaign against Rick Scott.

"Strategically I don't think there's much we would have done different," Khan says.

Nelson 'all for Hillary'

A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Bill Nelson was at home in Florida and decided to call up Hillary Rodham Clinton. She returned the call and Nelson, who was watching 60 Minutes with his wife, had a simple message:

Get in the race for president.

"It's time for a woman," Nelson said from the Capitol last week, recounting the conversation. "I'm all for Hillary."

Clinton is almost certainly going to run, but the question is when she'll announce.

"Florida will decide the election," Nelson said.

He spoke on the day Bush said he's actively exploring a run on the Republican side. Nelson was Florida treasurer for the first two years of Bush's first term as governor. "We had a very good personal and professional relationship," Nelson said. Asked to characterize how Bush ran the state, Nelson replied, "Reasonably so. That's when we had a number of hurricanes and so I was with him quite a bit."

Another Bush signal?

In another move toward a presidential run, Bush intends to step down by year's end as a paid adviser to Barclays, the British banking giant.

From the Financial Times: "Mr. Bush, who served as an adviser to Lehman Brothers before its collapse during the financial crisis, has rarely spoken about his work at the British bank, which has been ensnared by scandals such as the manipulation of key benchmark interest rates and the mis-selling of payment protection insurance in recent years."

BuzzFeed reported last week how Barclays had to pay a big fine for violating sanctions involving Cuba. Democrats eagerly spread it around. Key point, however: The infraction happened before Bush joined up with Barclays.

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

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