Jeb Bush throws his support behind Marco Rubio in U.S. Senate bid

Jeb Bush has picked his candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

The former Florida governor announced Thursday he was backing Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race. The announcement came one day after Rubio announced he was running for re-election.

Bush took to Twitter on Thursday to announce his support, saying he is “joining many good conservatives in supporting” Rubio. He continued by saying there is “nothing more important than” keeping a Republican majority in the Senate.

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Both men were among the more than a dozen Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for president. During the campaign, Bush had a few harsh words, including telling him he should be showing up to work.

“I’m a constituent of the Senator, and I helped him, and I expected he would do constituent services, which meant he would show up to work,” said Bush during the CNBC debate in October. “When you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.”

Bush dropped out of the race after the South Carolina primary. Rubio dropped out a few weeks later after a disappointing showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio faces Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

NARAL Pro-Choice America to begin airing ads attacking Marco Rubio in Florida

During his ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign, Marco Rubio went further than most Republicans ever have when he said that he would deny abortion to women who are survivors of rape and incest.

Such a stance was considered outside mainstream sensibilities, and the pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice began airing TV ads against Rubio following the New Hampshire primary on that issue.

Now with the Florida Senator announcing on Wednesday that he will run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat, the group says they begin airing that same 30-second TV ad in the Sunshine State, beginning later this week.

“Rubio would deny the choice of an abortion to all Americans, even those who are survivors of rape and incest,” said Sasha Bruce, Senior Vice President for Campaigns and Strategy at NARAL. “While Rubio may try to portray himself as some sort of new generation of Republican, his position on abortion is from the dark ages and is far more extreme than even many of his Republican colleagues. While Rubio record is thin, his priorities of rolling back reproductive freedoms are crystal clear. And those priorities are wrong for Florida and the nation.”

Rubio was attacked by some of his fellow Republicans running for president for his abortion stance during the campaign.

“Politically, it’s a tough sell to tell a pro-life mother — had her daughter been raped — that she would just have to accept that as a sad fact,” Jeb Bush told CNN last February. “This is not an easy decision, but Marco will have to explain that position.”

“I’m very pro-life, that’s a sensitive issue, but I think in a general election that will be a hard sell,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Watch the ad below:

 

Business lobby upset over worker’s comp decision

The state’s business lobbying groups called for legislative action Thursday after a Florida Supreme Court decision earlier that day on the worker’s compensation law.

The court’s 5-2 ruling for injured St. Petersburg firefighter Bradley Westphal strikes down a provision in the law limiting the time that injured workers can get temporary disability benefits. (Story here.)

Three justices, however, suggested that the Legislature needs to overhaul the worker’s comp law.

Thursday’s decision comes six weeks after the court invalidated the law’s legal fee schedule as unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of due process. Both decisions were authored by Justice Barbara Pariente.

Shortly afterward, an umbrella organization representing worker’s comp insurers filed a request for a 17-percent rate hike, directly attributed the increase to the court’s decision in Castellanos v. Next Door Company.

“With job creators already facing a 17.1 percent workers’ comp rate increase, today’s ruling causes even more uncertainty, and is a further sign that Florida’s workers’ comp system is under attack,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“A legislative solution for both cases will help bring certainty back to Florida’s job creators and injured workers that Florida’s workers’ comp system is working,” he added.

Spokespeople for the Florida House of Representatives and state Senate had no immediate comment other than saying their legal counsel were “reviewing” the latest decision.

Bill Herrle, executive director of National Federation of Independent Business/Florida, called the Westphal decision “one more blow from the Supreme Court that poses a very real threat to small business owners’ ability to employ Floridians.”

“Legislative action will be required to maintain a stable workers’ compensation market for Florida businesses,” he added, saying he hoped the Office of Insurance Regulation “acts as quickly as possible so that Florida business owners have a chance to do whatever they can to meet these unexpected costs.”

Logan McFaddin, regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said the decision “could significantly destabilize Florida’s business environment.”

“The Florida worker’s compensation system provides essential benefits to injured workers in a timely, efficient, and economically sound manner and the wage-replacement benefit system balances the interests of employees and employers,” McFaddin said. “We continue to support the 2003 Florida workers compensation reforms that were put in place to protect the interests of employees, as well as help control costs for business owners.”

In 2003, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature enacted changes to the worker’s comp system, though critics say they favored employers at the cost of injured employees. Companies said the changes cut costs to employers, which helps businesses grow jobs

“The impact of both decisions will likely motivate legislative action either through a special session in 2016 or in the regular session in 2017,” McFaddin added in a text message.

Personnel note: Stephen Lawson heading to DBPR

Stephen Lawson tells FloridaPolitics.com he’s departing as communications director for Enterprise Florida for the same job at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Lawson
Lawson

Lawson’s last day at EFI is Thursday. He starts at DBPR next week, replacing Chelsea Eagle. She wasn’t immediately available Wednesday.

Eagle departs in the wake of a high-profile battle with POLITICO Florida over the release of depositions and other material related to the state’s legal fight with the Seminole Tribe of Florida over gambling.

Lawson, an expert in “rapid response” PR, had his work cut out for him at EFI, the state’s public-private economic development organization.

The agency has taken hits as its proposed $250 million incentives fund failed during the 2016 legislative session, and outgoing CEO Bill Johnson has been questioned over his hiring and expenses.

The University of Florida graduate, a veteran of ScottWorld, was featured in SaintPetersblog’s “30 Under 30” in 2014. He has worked on Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election campaign and for the Republican Party of Florida.

He grew up in Tallahassee, got a bachelor’s degree in political science and classics at the University of Florida and a master’s in applied American politics and policy at Florida State.

Asked how he got into politics, Lawson said his mother “had a pretty big impact.”

“She worked at DOE (Dep’t of Education) under Governor [Jeb] Bush and later in the Senate on the Education Committee, so I grew up around it,” he said in the 2014 “30 Under 30” article. “Having a part, however small, in the process of making Florida a better place has always been a huge draw for me.”

Lawson is on Twitter at @StephenLawsonFL.

Joe Henderson: Florida Republicans just can’t let go of Marco Rubio

When it comes to Marco Rubio, Florida Republican Party leaders are starting to sound like a jilted lover that can’t quite let it go.

They ignore that Rubio was beaten soundly by Donald Trump in 65 of the state’s 66 counties in the Florida Primary, causing him to drop out of the presidential race. They ignore that he has repeatedly trashed his job as a senator in both word and deed.

They ignore a recent Quinnipiac poll that showed 49 percent of Floridians disapprove of his performance while only 42 percent approve. They’re willing to look past his stumbles on the presidential campaign trail, especially the way Chris Christie made him look foolish and ill-prepared during the New Hampshire primary.

None of this seems to matter.

They are practically crawling to Rubio, all but begging him to change his mind and run for re-election to his seat in the U.S. Senate after he repeatedly said he wouldn’t. Given his serious and considerable baggage, the fact that they see Rubio as their champion says a lot about what they think of their chances to keep that seat in the GOP column.

And while Rubio’s words say “no, no, no” his actions say, “um, maybe … if you ask me real nice.”

For instance, he told CNN he might consider changing his mind if his good friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera wasn’t in the race.

“I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it,” Rubio said.

Of course, friendship didn’t stand in the way of running against Jeb Bush for president. That friendship was strained, too; after he dropped out, Bush refused to endorse Rubio, even after pushing for him to be the vice president for Mitt Romney in 2012.

And while he was still in the campaign, Bush told The Washington Post, “Let me ask you, what has (Rubio) accomplished? What has he done in his life that makes you think he can make the tough calls, develop strategy?”

Good question.

What has Rubio accomplished, other than express disdain for the job he was elected to do? He has name recognition, sure, but as the Quinnipiac poll shows that can cut both ways.

None of that apparently matters to Republicans casting a longing eye in Rubio’s direction. Maybe it should.

Julie Delegal: Jeb Bush — What are you going to do about Donald Trump?

Dear former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,

At one time, while you were still running for President, you were asked an interesting question: “If you could go back in time, and ‘take out’ Hitler, would you?”

You answered, as most of us would, with a resounding “yes.”

It’s 2016, and I’ll spare you any comparisons between the Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump, and Adolf Hitler. I won’t conflate Trump’s brand of authoritarianism with National Socialism (Nazism), fascism, or any other identifiable political ideology. I won’t read aloud passages from “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” as my husband, chillingly, has begun to do.

And, unlike Trump himself, I certainly won’t advocate violence against anyone.

But I will draw your attention to the recent election in Austria, where a candidate peddling false nostalgia in a rapidly changing world was “very narrowly defeated.” Washington Post columnist Carl Bildt invokes the writings of political philosopher Karl Popper, warning that the “strain of civilization that can occur when change is seen as too rapid, and the lure of a return to the tribe makes itself felt.”

And I’d be remiss as a citizen if I didn’t ask you — and the other leaders of the party formerly known as Republican — what are you going to do about Donald Trump?

I know, Governor Bush, you saw the same neon light that I did, splitting the night, flashing its warning.

Thankfully, you were not silent.

You have announced you will boycott the Republican National Convention this summer in July.

So why have you gone silent again now?

Trump’s authoritarianism is dangerous. It’s an interaction between a charismatic figure who simplifies politics and policies in a deliciously irresistible way, and followers who care less about policy and more about what Trump represents.

Trump exudes nostalgia for the old order: the white, male, hierarchical order; the order in which being rich bestows instant authority, and an extra measure of citizenship; the order in which Dad’s word was law and was never questioned at home; where might ultimately made right — and the mighty didn’t apologize for it; where white men were safe and secure and free to pursue their work unfettered by those who didn’t belong.

Those pesky others are excluded from this particular brand of nostalgia, because nostalgia, by definition, is a Big Lie. It conveniently leaves out the bad stuff: women being beaten in their own homes; black people hung from trees.

At Trump rallies, the Ones-Who-Don’t-Belong are chased out violently. With Trump’s approval:

“I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

“In the good old days, this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough.”

“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would ya? Seriously. Just knock the hell out of them.”

Here is a man who clearly understands the tremendous power he has over his followers:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

He is a nightmare come true for America, a Philip Roth novel horrifyingly brought to life.

Trump has created an in-group based on the worst imaginable unifiers: racism, sexism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. Worse, he’s given these views legitimacy by using “economic dissatisfaction” as a pretext for mob rule.

Who is going to counter that, if not you, Governor Bush? You know better. Your family knows better.

As a member of the opposite political party, I nevertheless once had hope in your dad’s moderation; his kinder, gentler ambitions, even when — in a near-Trumpian manner — he expressed his love for your children as “the little brown ones.” I forgave him. I believe you have, as well.

Be clear. I’ve been a vocal critic of Bush-brand education reform since its inception. And I thank God for the liberty to write my opinions about those policies.

That’s why I’m pleading with you now to do whatever you can to preserve the fundamental values of this nation, even if it means shelving your presidential ambitions.

Create a third party. Run a top-of-the-ticket slate and show this nation what conservatism really is — and is not. Let the down-ballot Republicans stay where they are and support who they will.

Now is the time for you to slaughter the Southern strategy chickens that have come home to roost. It’s time to rip out the GOP’s harvest of thorns and sow anew.

Will you expose this neon god for the dangerous fraud that he is? Or, with apologies to Paul Simon, are we just echoes in the wells of silence?

___

Julie Delegal, a University of Florida alumna, is a contributor for Folio Weekly, Jacksonville’s alternative weekly, and writes for the family business, Delegal Law Offices. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

An Auburn license plate in Florida is a bad idea

A pair of eminent Florida politicos want to introduce legislation to create a specialty Florida license plate bearing the logo of Auburn University.

That’s a bad idea for several reasons.

No animus against Democratic strategist Kevin Cate, one of the kindest political people around, or Rep. Jamie Grant, who gives me courage despite my own receding hairline. But this is an idea whose time should never come.

Florida, for one thing, has enough trouble supporting its own institutions.

Historians and scholars studying Florida often point to a “placelessness” which pervades the state.

The slippery, abstract idea has launched a thousand masters theses about identity and political geography, but what it comes down to is this: people come here from elsewhere and keep living like they never left.

Native Floridians have all felt the slings and arrows of this phenomenon.

In Sarasota, you can find bars plastered with Indiana University and Michigan State banners, where patrons are singing that dumb Chicago Bears fight song. Tampa Bay Rays fans are numbly accustomed to being outnumbered at home games when the Yankees and Red Sox — or even the Detroit Tigers — are in town. And it goes without saying that much of South Florida is an ad hoc menagerie of cantons whose cultures are almost entirely imported.

In other words, the distilled spirit of Florida Itself, if it exists, is hard to come by. This bit of state-sanctioned carpetbagging won’t help.

A new Auburn vanity plate would also set an unwise precedent. No other out-of-state college has an official Florida tag.

Yes, it’s true our Georgia neighbors allow residents to sport their War Damn Eagle pride on a state license plate. But it makes sense there because an appreciable percentage of Auburn alums end up working in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia. (After all, the only growing sector of Alabama’s economy is legal defense for its political leaders.)

Not really so in Florida. Cate cites 15,000 Auburn alums living and working in Florida, as well as the influence of AU alum Jimmy Buffett among others on the state’s culture.

But that’s a drop in the bucket: a mere 0.075 percent of Florida’s population. Ohio State boasts more than 14,000 alums in Florida — I doubt any of us wants to see more Buckeye plates on I-75 than we already do. And after all, Jimmy Buffett doesn’t live in Key West anymore.

Plus, Florida lawmakers have real work to do.

Sure, not expanding Medicaid doesn’t take much effort, but how about another go at banning Sharia law? That resolution apologizing to Donald Trump for endorsing Jeb Bush and/or Marco Rubio won’t draft itself. These things take time, and it is always in short supply in part-time Tallahassee.

Not to mention the excruciating minutes of “fun” frivolous debate the bill will require.

TED Appropriations Chair and former Florida State lineman Clay Ingram will make a dopey quip about the 2013 National Championship Game, Rep. Bill Hager will introduce a joke amendment to create a plate for his beloved University of North Iowa Panthers — an argument that would have the same force as Grant and Cate’s, by the way — or the interminable intra-SEC banter from the Legislature’s many Florida Gators.

Let’s not put ourselves through that.

Far be it from me to limit free speech. By all means Auburn Tigers, let your flag fly, unless it’s that flag.

But as Gov. Lawton Chiles said when he vetoed the “Choose Life” plate, Florida’s license plates are not “the proper forum.”

Tom Jackson: Hit that reset button already, Marco Rubio

Well past the point that it became abundantly — and, in some circles, painfully — obvious that Marco Rubio should have applied himself to the job he convinced Floridians he wanted in 2010, a fresh question has arisen:

Should Rubio declare himself a candidate for re-election?

The answer is: Duh.

Of course, he should. This is the biggest no-brainer since Captain America rejected United Nations sanctions. It’s hard to believe he’s even hemming, let alone hawing.

Listen, everyone gets that Rubio has been that “young man in a hurry” for nearly 20 years, especially those on whose hands he stepped reaching for the next rung. And he almost couldn’t be blamed for seeking the presidency, considering how establishment conservatives rhapsodized about his wonkmanship, his reform policies and his political skills.

And maybe, if he’d been quicker with his wits on that New Hampshire stage, maybe the 3-2-1 strategy laid out by his strategists would have prevailed. I mean, suppose Rubio had prefaced his infamous robotic repetitions with a deft qualifier, such as, “Yes, I’m repeating myself, and I will continue to repeat myself because it doesn’t matter how you pose the question, the answer remains the same. What’s true is true: Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing.”

This is not beyond imagining, no matter how programmed Rubio’s critics think he is. Indeed, those who know him well, and those who covered him closely during the primary, know he is perfectly capable of riffing off-script without sacrificing expertise.

But that was then, and this is now, more than two months after the stinging defeat in Florida that ended — for the moment, anyway — his White House dream. And just now, Republicans defending lots of purple-state seats need to field their best team if they have any hope of maintaining their majority in the U.S. Senate.

With all due respect to the political talent wrangling to become the GOP nominee — with one tin-eared exception — that team looks better if Rubio is on the roster.

The idea might be growing on him, too. Tuesday afternoon, an email landed bearing Rubio’s signature and the subject line “Time to stand together.”

It reads, in part, “Our liberal opponents have already launched countless attacks against many of my Republican colleagues. We must protect our Republican Senate majority.

“Defeating these Democrats will only be possible if conservatives like us stand together to defend our Republican Senate.”

“Stand together.” At the risk of reading way, way, way too much into a fundraising email, this hints that Mr. I’ll-Be-A-Private-Citizen is signaling a fresh course.

He ought to be, anyway.

With the clarity of retrospect, Rubio shouldn’t have leapt into the awful Republican scrum in the first place. Never mind that he was, with the exception of one memorable debate, clearly the best-informed candidate in the pack. I lost track of the times he fact-checked Donald Trump in real time.

(An aside: The fact Rubio says he’s willing to speak nicely about Trump at the Republican National Convention is a problem for supporters who took his eviscerations of the presumptive nominee to heart, but it’s also, unfortunately, a calculated penance. We’ll be listening closely for what he does and, more important, doesn’t say.)

Alas, this was not the year for facts, articulated policies or — as Jeb Bush came to appreciate and rue — deeply researched and painstakingly detailed plans to fix what ails America. This, instead, is the year a substantial chunk of voters think the presidency is a reality show.

After all, how hard can it be? Barack Obama makes nuke deals with Iran, slows the retreat of glaciers, amends his namesake health plan at will and still squeezes in an afternoon 18 at Fort Belvoir Golf Club.

What’s a first-term senator encountering an unanticipated detour to do? Reroute, already. Hit the reset button. Immediately. Not just because it’s what’s in Rubio’s best political interests, but because the other GOP candidates need time before the June 24 filing deadline to make alternate plans.

Again, re-election to the Senate also is Rubio’s best path forward. He’s not likely to be elected Florida’s governor anytime soon; Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, the most-Florida politician ever, is practically Rick Scott’s heir apparent. And former state House Speaker Will Weatherford, every bit as talented, is almost certain to maneuver himself into future consideration.

Besides, being a senator is a cool job, in and of itself. And if Rubio wins again, then buckles down to the work while avoiding past missteps (the Gang of Eight immigration scheme leaps to mind), ratcheting up his constituent service and resisting the lure of another presidential run in 2020, then by 2024 or 2028 at the outside, he’d be in his 50s, experienced, wiser and a little gray at the temples; the game would again be afoot.

Indeed, perhaps by then he’ll have served in a Republican administration: Secretary of State Marco Rubio. It could happen. And there are worse launching pads.

Hit that button already, Sen. Rubio. It’s the right thing all-around.

___

Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.27.16 – Lighting strikes no more

The somewhat improbable Tampa Bay Lightning run for a second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup ended last night around 11 p.m. when they lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1. The Lightning were pretty thoroughly outplayed if you go by shots-on-goal, but the last eight minutes or so were absolutely nail-biting.

There’s a reason why the National Hockey League is considered a distant fourth when it comes to our major sports leagues in the U.S., and that is that it’s not as popular as the NFL, NBA and MLB. Need more proof? The fact that the league informed the Lightning to cancel their official “watch party” scheduled last night in front of the Amalie Arena, because the team had violated some arcane rule about how many they could host during the playoffs.

The speculation was that this had to do with concern about television ratings. Say what? No doubt the Tampa Bay area market probably had some of the highest ratings in the country, but the NHL is concerned that several thousand people wouldn’t be in front of their own TV’s, thus hurting future advertising? Talk about insecure.

When I ilved in the Bay Area, people used to say in the 90’s that the only 20,000 people in the region who cared about the San Jose Sharks were the people who attended the games. You probably can’t say that here, where there’s no NBA franchise. But yesterday’s decision by the league shows how far it still has to go to feel like it’s on a level playing field with the other major sports leagues in America.

Meanwhile, what does Marco want? There’s been a flurry of speculation over the past 24 hours about Rubio re-entering the senate race that he dropped out of a year ago. He seemed to end that yesterday in a conference call. Yet..

:Look, if the circumstances were different,” he said about possibly getting into the contest, “but they’re not. This is the fact: Carlos (Lopez-Cantera) is in the race. He’s a good friend, he’s a good candidate, he’ll be a great senator. So my answer today is no different than it was 24-48-72 hours ago. All right?”

It is legitimate to question what Rubio will do in the immediate future that theoretically makes him viable for president in 2020 or beyond. Another memoir? He just wrote one a couple of years ago, so how many tales does he have to tell? Jeb Bush was pretty rusty after nearly a decade of being out of the arena in the past year. Maybe it’s a thing of honor for Rubio not to reenter the race, but there have been far crazier things happen.

In other news..

In what can only be described as a radical move for a Florida local government, the Sarasota County Commission this week rejected offering incentives to a national roofing company to relocate their headquarters to the region. At least one group is praising them, however.

Alan Grayson is sponsoring a bill that would restore the voting rights for the nearly 6 million people around the country currently disenfranchised because of a previous felony conviction.

Kathy Castor is backing Ben Diamond over Eric Lynn in the House Democratic 68 race in Pinellas County.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports a re-vote on putting the Go Hillsborough measure on the November ballot, with one caveat: They support the tax lasting at least 20 years, not 15 years, which is the duration the BOCC is poised to vote on next month.

Donald Trump reaches the magic number to clinch nomination

Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.

Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.

But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced Trump as a plain-speaking populist who is not afraid to offend.

Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman.

“Leadership is leadership,” House said. “If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”

Trump’s pivotal moment comes amid a new sign of internal problems.

Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the abrupt departure of political director Rick Wiley, who was in the midst of leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only on a short-term basis until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

His hiring about six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were embracing Trump’s campaign. A person familiar with Wiley’s ouster said the operative clashed with others in Trump’s operation and didn’t want to put longtime Trump allies in key jobs. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal campaign dynamics.

Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best, saying they are supporting him out of a sense of obligation because he won their state’s primary.

Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.

“If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,” Linton said. “He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.”

Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination began with an escalator ride.

Trump and his wife, Melania, descended an escalator into the basement lobby of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, for an announcement many observers had said would never come: The celebrity real estate developer had flirted with running for office in the past.

His speech then set the tone for the candidate’s ability to dominate the headlines with provocative statements, insults and hyperbole. He called Mexicans “rapists,” promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and proposed banning most Muslims from the U.S. for an indeterminate time.

He criticized women for their looks. And he unleashed an uncanny marketing ability in which he deduced his critics’ weak points and distilled them to nicknames that stuck. “Little MarcoRubio, “Weak” Jeb Bush and “Lyin’ TedCruz, among others, all were forced into reacting to Trump. They fell one-by-one — leaving Trump the sole survivor of a riotous Republican primary.

His rallies became magnets for free publicity. Onstage, he dispensed populism that drew thousands of supporters, many wearing his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting, “Build the wall!”

The events drew protests too— with demonstrators sometimes forcibly ejected from the proceedings. One rally in Chicago was canceled after thousands of demonstrators surrounded the venue and the Secret Service could no longer vouch for the candidate’s safety.

When voting started, Trump was not so fast out of the gate.

He lost the Iowa caucuses in February, falling behind Cruz and barely edging Rubio for second. He recovered in New Hampshire. From there he and Cruz fiercely engaged, with Trump winning some and losing some but one way or another dominating the rest of the primary season — in votes or at least in attention — and ultimately in delegates.

Republican leaders declared themselves appalled by Trump’s rise. Conservatives called the onetime Democrat a fraud. But many slowly, warily, began meeting with Trump and his staff. And he began winning endorsements from a few members of Congress.

As with other aspects of his campaign, Trump upended the traditional role of money in the race.

He incurred relatively low campaign costs — just $57 million through the end of April. He covered most of it with at least $43 million of his own money loaned to the campaign. He spent less than $21 million on paid television and radio commercials. That’s about one-quarter of what Jeb Bush and his allies spent on TV.

Trump entered a new phase of his campaign Tuesday night by holding his first major campaign fundraiser: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los Angeles.

Trump, 69, the son of a New York City real estate magnate, had risen to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing major real estate deals, watching his financial fortunes rise, then fall, hosting “The Apprentice” TV show and authoring more than a dozen books.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.