Florida Political Insiders: Bush Will Seek Presidency, Rubio Won't

Image: Florida Political Insiders: Bush Will Seek Presidency, Rubio Won't

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 08:05 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will likely seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will probably sit out the race, say most of a group of the state's political insiders in a new survey.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that 74 percent of the about 120 people participating in its Political Insider Poll say Bush will run in 2016, but only 33 percent believe Rubio will run.

"Jeb is showing all the signs of running," one Republican told the newspaper. "Rubio is just too young and unseasoned yet for the presidency. Needs to wait a bit longer."

Neither Bush, 61, or Rubio, 42, have announced a presidential campaign. Rubio has said that if Bush runs, that will not have a bearing on his decision, but 86 percent of the poll's respondents said they don't believe him.

Rubio said earlier this month he would make a decision about his political future around this time next year.

"For me, the choice in 2016 will be whether I run for re-election and serve in the Senate for another six years, whether the time has come to perhaps go to the private sector, or whether I want to run for another office like the presidency, because I feel passionately about some of the things our country needs to be doing," the freshman senator from Florida said at a Reuters Health Summit in Washington.

Rubio won his Senate seat in 2010 on a wave of support from the conservative tea party movement. He has since established himself as a leading voice on issues such as immigration reform.

Meanwhile, Bush has said that he will consult with his family this summer and make his decision by the end of the year. Bush is expected to attract numerous big-money donors if he chooses to run, while setting up a showdown with the influential tea party movement.

"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 told the Tampa Bay Times in its survey. "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."

But another of the Republicans told the Tampa Bay Times that Rubio will run "because he can't help himself, but it will be the literal end of his career," but Bush won't run because "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."

Yet another Republican respondent said that Rubio will run but drop out and then endorse Bush, and after that will return to Florida, where he will run for governor and win.

In another race, the group of insiders were almost evenly divided over whether Charlie Crist or Rick Scott will win the governor's race, with 51 percent picking Scott and 49 percent Crist.

Republicans and Democrats were both confident in their party's nominee. Eighty four percent of Democrats said Crist would win, and 80 percent of Republicans chose Scott.

The Tampa Bay Times surveyed 51 Democrats, 60 Republicans and 10 people without party affiliation, including political operatives, activists, fundraisers and donors.

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