How Marco Rubio Could Lose Florida To Jeb Bush

In Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida, voters go to the polls today in the Republican and Democratic primaries. According to some analysts, Rubio could very well lose the state because of Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the race weeks ago. Turns out that some of Florida’s absentee ballots have been cast well before Jeb Bush bowed out of the Republican primary, and those votes could have a huge impact on the presidential race, particularly for Marco Rubio.

“There’s going to be a sizeable number of people who voted for Jeb Bush before he dropped out and there’s going to be a sizable number of people who voted for Jeb Bush after he dropped out,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist.

Rubio and Bush’s home state of Florida is one of many “winner-take-all” primary states, meaning that a candidate who wins a majority of the votes wins all of the available delegates, as the Inquisitr reported previously. And as a result, Rubio’s flagging poll numbers make every vote cast even more important, as many are calling Florida a “make-or-break” moment for the Rubio campaign – he’d be the first this campaign season to lose his own home state.

“There are people, and I’ve heard rumors of that, of Jeb people saying they’re just going to vote for Jeb anyway,” said Nelson Diaz, the GOP chairman of Miami-Dade County.

According to CNN, 600,000 Republican absentee ballots have been cast so far, and around 223,000 were received and cast before Jeb Bush dropped out of the race. Given that Marco Rubio’s campaign needs every vote it can get in the Sunshine state, the Jeb Bush campaign could very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“I’m not going to make any predictions about Jeb Bush,” said Adam Hasner, Marco Rubio’s Florida co-chairman.

Jeb Bush has yet to endorse any other candidate since dropping out, and his campaign worked hard to turn out the vote among early voters in Florida before dropping out of the race. Bush has personally met with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich since bowing out of the race, but Rubio, in particular, could really benefit from an endorsement by his former mentor.

“You can’t hit me with a baseball bat today and want to play ball with me tomorrow,” said Mac Stipanovich, the Florida executive director for the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984, when asked about a potential Jeb Bush endorsement for Marco Rubio.

Marco Rubio has cleaned up his rhetoric in recent weeks, but when he tried on Donald Trump’s insult politics just last month, his poll numbers cratered. The last few weeks have shown voters a more contrite, compassionate Rubio than we’ve seen in the past. Even so, tone change aside, Jeb Bush is unlikely to endorse any candidate ahead of the Florida primary today, even his friend Marco Rubio, reports the Washington Times.

“The governor decided he wasn’t going to endorse anyone. He made up his mind that was the case, and that’s what he’s done,” said Al Cardenas, a senior advisor to the Bush campaign.

Rubio’s friendship with Bush started back in 1998, when Rubio was just running for his first political office on the West Miami City Commission. Jeb Bush, then running for governor of Florida, sent Rubio a $50 campaign contribution. After that, Rubio and Bush were strong partners in local Florida government, backing one another’s policies and political aspirations. But during the 2016 campaign, the relationship soured when Rubio started attacking Bush on the campaign trail.

“The only reason why you’re attacking now is because we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” said Rubio in response to criticism from Jeb Bush.

Florida’s final tally will be in by tomorrow morning, and we’ll be able to see just how many votes Bush was able to secure before dropping out. If Rubio doesn’t do well, we may see him drop out as well.

[Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images]