What Happens If Bush And Rubio Split Florida?

In a very well written story that I encourage you to read by Ron Faucheux in the morning’s edition of The Hill called ” Is Florida the GOP’s Waterloo? ” He looks at how someone candidates could work things out in a way that could cause one of Florida’s favorite son’s to finish third in the states GOP Primary.

According to Faucheux there is not only a game plan on how this could work but an example on how it has indeed happened before in the state back in 1976.

One intriguing possibility that isn’t being discussed is the opportunity for a collective maneuver by the non-Florida candidates to set up either Bush or Rubio for defeat. To do this, the non-Floridians need to wait and see which of the state’s favorite sons poses the biggest threat to their own nomination prospects. If Bush looks like the candidate to beat going into 2016, they could aim to take him out. If Rubio seems the bigger menace, they could go after him.

To pull off this maneuver, all the non-Florida candidates would have to do is — nothing. Literally. Here’s why: Polls have shown that Florida Republicans who’d vote for Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), former Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) or former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) as their first choice often pick Rubio as their second choice. That means that if these candidates don’t campaign in the Florida primary, their supporters will drift away and likely end up in Rubio’s column. That would give Rubio a better chance to overtake Bush.

However, if Rubio is the one they want to eliminate, then the non-Florida candidates would then campaign in the Sunshine State for the specific purpose of peeling off votes from Rubio in his battle against Bush for home-state supremacy.

This kind of ganging-up is nothing new. We saw it in the 1976 Florida Democratic presidential primary. It was the showdown contest between two candidates from states bordering Florida: Jimmy Carter of Georgia and George Wallace of Alabama. Democrats from outside the South saw the match-up as an opportunity to knock out Wallace once and for all as a national player. To beat Wallace, they decided that there needed to be a united anti-Wallace vote. So they pressured other Democratic presidential candidates to stay out of the Florida primary and let Carter have Wallace to himself.

As you may recall, Wallace’s slogan was “Send Them A Message!” So Carter countered with “Send Them A President” — in effect, telling fellow Southerners to actually elect the next White House occupant and not just register a protest.

The maneuver worked flawlessly, until Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-Wash.) broke ranks and campaigned in Florida, risking a split in the anti-Wallace vote. But Carter prevailed anyway, beating Wallace 35 percent to 31 percent. Jackson, who rightly feared Carter would gain unstoppable momentum by defeating Wallace, ran third with 24 percent.

It is interesting stuff worthy of a House of Cards script and something that voters in the state of Florida will no doubt be following in the months to come.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.