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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fortress Florida

Michael Barbaro reports at The New York Times that Jeb Bush is working to make Florida a fortress both for the nomination campaign and the general election.
The plan, code-named “Homeland Security,” seeks to try to neutralize two potentially grave but homegrown threats to Mr. Bush’s long-anticipated run for president: the likely challenge from a charismatic young Republican senator from Miami, Marco Rubio, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination himself, and a demographic drift within Florida that could doom Mr. Bush there in a fall campaign against a Democrat. 
...
In what advisers said could amount to a $50 million undertaking by Election Day, Mr. Bush and his team are rushing to lock up Florida’s best-known political operatives, elected officials and campaign donors — offering them contracts, face time and blandishments, according to those who know of the tactics.
Their forceful message to the state’s top campaign minds: “Keep your schedules clear,” said Dan Dawson, a Republican operative in Jacksonville who specializes in digital strategy and may work with Mr. Bush.
...
The state last week set a winner-take-all primary on March 15, 2016, the earliest date possible under Republican rules. That means that, after early contests in smaller states where he may struggle and a round of primaries in which delegates will be allocated proportionally, the fight for Florida’s 99 delegates could give Mr. Bush a chance to clinch the nomination, pull away from the pack or recover from a stumble.
...
Mr. Bush’s next steps are clear, advisers said. He must prevent Mr. Rubio from building a credible operation in the state; make the case that as a Spanish speaker with a Mexican-born wife, he can overcome demographics that might otherwise favor the Democratic nominee; and, lastly, construct a robust fund-raising operation that can collect the tens of millions it would cost Mr. Bush to win Florida in a primary and general election.
Behind the scenes, those close to Mr. Bush are moving quickly to undermine Mr. Rubio. A close Bush ally, David Johnson, has taken over the state’s Republican Party as interim executive director and, in a blunt interview here, sought to discourage Mr. Rubio from entering the presidential race.