Florida is Boardwalk…

And they know it.

Florida is preparing today to announce that they are moving their primary to January 31.  While this comes as no surprise, it still angers several other states who may now have to push their primaries up as well to get their early start.  I don’t blame them, Florida is kind of acting like it’s the big man on campus.

As a Floridian myself, I figured I would bring some local perspective to the issue.  Florida is a state that has called the election in all but one of the last 10 elections.  Florida went blue in 2008, red in 2004, narrowly red in 2000, and blue in 1996.  Each time, Florida helped pick the winner.

In 2008, Florida played a huge role as a game changer for the Romney campaign.  Romney went into the Florida primary expecting a slim win.  Instead he was handed a slim loss.  John McCain went on to be our candidate, and lose.  Despite the horrible first three years Obama has experienced, Florida will likely be a deciding factor again in this general election.

Florida could be a huge game changer in this election, if the Florida straw poll is any indication.  As far as the media is concerned, this is a two man race between the faltering Rick Perry and the polished fiscal conservative Mitt Romney.  But influential Florida Republicans said no.  Let’s take another look at Herman Cain.  Shortly afterward, a Rasmussen poll added weight to the Florida game changer.  Herman Cain went from a future has-been back to contender status in one afternoon.

Let’s face it.  We know Iowa will probably go to Rick Perry and New Hampshire will go to Mitt Romney.  I think South Carolina is a toss up right now.  Florida is a clear toss up.  By moving up, Florida will get the candidates to flood the state, court the voters, and could be an early change in the momentum of the race.

Of course, other early states like Iowa and South Carolina will no doubt move up their primaries.  But Florida will still get that early say and make sure we have a voice before it truly is just a two man race.  Considering the role Florida plays in the general election, maybe other states should just get used to our bully stance.  Then again, we were the deciding factor in tossing John McCain into the ring with Barack Obama.  So maybe not.

If a Bush were to ever get back into politics…

On November 3rd, 2008 the idea of a Bush ever running for political office again seemed pretty silly. We had a bad taste in our mouth from George H.W. Bush promising not to raise taxes, and then raising them. We had an even worse taste in our mouth from George W. Bush with his wars and deficits in the couple hundred billions. The name had become synonymous with bad politics and even most Republicans knew that the words “Bush” and “good president” in the same sentence was political suicide.

With all that, very little attention was paid to the Bush in Florida who retired five years ago after reaching the state’s term limit on the governor’s office. Jeb Bush left Florida in a far better position than he found it and still enjoys incredible popularity today in the state.

Jeb Bush is still very popular in Florida

I remember going to a McCain rally in NE Florida during the 2008 campaign. When Jeb was announced to introduce John McCain, I wasn’t the only Floridian on my feet enthusiastically cheering. In fact, we cheered harder for our former governor than we did for McCain.

Jeb still maintains great popularity in the state. A few months ago, Public Policy Polling reported that Bush was the only Florida potential candidate who would defeat Bill Nelson for the Senate seat in 2012, if he ran. This was before Nelson walked away from his seat on the Armed Forces Committee which may seal his 2012 doom no matter who he runs against.

George Bush won Florida in 2000 and 2008. In both elections, those 27 electoral votes would have been the difference between a Gore or Kerry Presidency. In 2008, Obama won Florida, but he could have afforded to lose it. I have little doubt that Florida would go the Republican’s way in a Jeb Bush presidential run.

But what about the rest of the country? For the other 49 states, Jeb is not even on the radar and the name Bush still scares a lot of people. On the other hand, as we face a third year with deficits in excess of a trillion dollars and war under Barack Obama, the name Bush isn’t quite as scary as it used to be.

Bush is fluent in Spanish and has a very good relationship with the Hispanic community. He has been quick to advocate for them and to point out how Democrats use that issue as nothing more than a political advantage. He also has been able to maintain a reputation as a moderate and a conservative; a tricky balancing act that voters can easily see through if not done right.

Bush does have some strikes against him with far right conservatives. He opposed the Arizona immigration law and supports state bankruptcy. This puts him in company with others like Pawlenty and Gingrich, but would certainly raise eyebrows in a 2012 primary that is certain to still be riding the TEA party sentiments of 2010.

Bush has sofar elected to stay out of the 2012 race, but has hinted that he may seek the nomination in the future. Given the political landscape going into this race, this may be a wise decision. While Bush is a solid conservative choice and a proven leader, the current issues and divisions on the right do not favor him. So far he has also opted out of the 2012 Senate race. But if a Bush could ever go back to DC in our lifetimes, it would be Jeb.

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