Jeb Bush says he hasn't made up his mind about running for president in 2016, but the overwhelming verdict from 120 of Florida's most plugged in politicos is that Bush ultimately will take the plunge.
Seventy four percent of the participants in our latest Tampa Bay Times Political Insider poll predict Bush will run in 2016, while only 33 percent expect that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will run for president in 2016.
"Jeb is showing all the signs of running," said one Republican. "Rubio is just too young and unseasoned yet for the presidency. Needs to wait a bit longer."
Rubio, 42, says he is undecided about 2016 also and that whether Bush, 61, is in or not will have no bearing on his decision. Our Insiders don't buy it.
A whopping 86 percent said Rubio would not run if Bush does.
"Marco will do everything in his power to be prepared should Jeb decide not to run, but he will not enter any campaign until Jeb makes his decision known - nor should he," a Republican said. "Jeb would be the bridge Marco needs to major donors and the consensus Republicans that will determine the nominee, and he will do nothing to light any match near that bridge."
Another Republican said, "I think Marco Rubio will run for President because he can't help himself but it will be the literal end of his career. Everyone will see that his meteoric rise is a mile wide and an inch deep. I also take the contrarian view that Jeb Bush will not run for President in 2016. I think once he takes a look at what it will actually take to run (not win but just run), he will opt to continue to be one of our Party's best elder statesmen."
And there was this intriguing GOP prediction: "Rubio eventually drops out and endorses Jeb. Rubio comes home in2018 to run for Governor and wins."
On the more immediate marquee race, Charlie Crist vs. Rick Scott for governor, our Florida Insiders were evenly split on predicting whether Crist or Scott prevails, with 51 percent predicting Scott and 49 percent Crist.
"For all the hubris in Scottworld, they still have a guy that less than 40 percent of Florida voters want to reelect for Governor," a Democrat said. "The one sided nature of the TV wars will go away by August, if not sooner, and when it does, absent some national trend, voters will be reminded why they like Crist and why they don't like
Another Republican said that "despite the ineptitude of Rick Scott's out-of-state campaign staff, there's a lot to be said for a $4 million to zero TV ad blitz. By October, both candidates will have sky-high negatives, and the race will come down to voter enthusiasm, which favors Republicans during the off cycle."
Republicans and Democrats alike are overwhelmingly confident in their nominee, though Democrats a tad more so. Eighty four percent of the Democratic Insiders said Crist would win, while 80 percent of the Republicans predicted Scott.
"I don't think Scott realizes how many people don't trust him. Money will not buy this election," said one Republican predicting a Crist victory. "After the session and veto period watch how many will jump to the other side."
The Florida Insider Poll surveys Florida political operatives, activists, fundraisers, donors, academics and more. This month's group included 51 Democrats, 60 Republicans, and 10 people registered to neither major party. They are:
Brian Ballard, Ana Navarro, Ben Pollara, Damien Filer, Bob Poe, Carlos Curbelo, Gus Corbella, Fred Cunningham, Mitchell Berger, Bernie Campbell, John French, John Stemberger, Nancy Watkins, Susie Wiles, Cory Tilley, Susannah Randolph, Cynthia Henderson, Steve Schale, Kirk Pepper, Towson Fraser, Frank Tsamoutales, Andrew Gillum, Eric Johnson, Christian Ulvert, Peter Wallace, Mike Hamby, Paula Dockery, David Johnson, Ana Cruz, Dave Aronberg, Mark Ferrulo, Kristen Borman, Kevin Cate, Tyler Hudson, Marion Hammer, Alex Burgos, Kathy Mears, Kirk Fordham, John Morgan, Jason Fischer, Eric Jotkoff, Justin Day, Jeff Johnson, Ann Herberger, Tony Hill, Roger Stone, Alan Clendenin, Adam Goodman, Dan McLaughlin, Pat Neal, Brian Burgess, Michael Albetta, Greg Truax, Ron Greenstein, Sarah Rumpf, Eric Eikenberg, Monica Russo, Jill Chamberlin, Robert Coker, Darryl Paulson, Daniel Smith, Chris Korge, Christina Johnson, Betty Castor, Tom Tillison, Andy Ford, Rick Wilson, Nancy McGowan, Brian Crowley, John Long, Dan Krassner, Lanny Wiles, Bridget Nocco, Karen Unger, Joy-Ann Reid, Steve Yerrid, Husein Cumber, Jamie Miller, Marc Reichelderfer, Pat Roberts, John Wehrung, Mac Stipanovich, Jason Roth, Erin VanSickle, Jim Rimes, Brett Doster, Meredith O'Rourke, Stephanie Kunkel, Rockie Pennington, Rodney Barreto,Lucy Morgan, Joe Perry, Roly Marante, Stephanie Grutman, Jackie Lee, Scott Arceneaux, Abel Harding, Marty Fiorentino, Don Hinkle, Van Poole, Aubrey Jewett, Tom Gaitens, Brecht Heuchen, Kelly Cohen, Hayden Dempsey, Derek Newton, Stephen Shiver, Doc Dockery, Mel Sembler, Steve Geller, Screven Watson, Ashley Walker, Bud Shorstein, Alberto Martinez, Barry Edwards, Dan Gelber, John Dowless, Karl Koch,