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Bob Buckhorn says the rise of Donald Trump could lead to the erosion of the modern GOP

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Although early voting for the March 15 presidential primary began in Hillsborough County and other counties in Florida earlier this week, the process went statewide on Saturday, and the Hillary Clinton campaign seized on that development by sending high profile surrogates go to the polls.

In the Tampa Bay area, that meant having Mayor Bob Buckhorn casting his ballot at the College Hill Library in East Tampa.

Buckhorn led a short rally on Wednesday night for Clinton at the opening of the campaign’s Tampa headquarters at the Cuban Club in Ybor City.

The mayor, who used to be a political analyst of Bay News 9, agreed with the prognosis of many commentators that in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendency towards the nomination and the attempts by the Republican establishment to stop him, the GOP appears to be in chaos at the moment.

“The evil demons that they have used for the last 15 years to help them win, particularly in governors races and legislative races, are now out the bottle, and they can’t figure how to put it back,” Buckhorn said before going into vote. “I think if this race continues the way it seems to be continuing, you will see potentially the end of the modern Republican conservative party. Those demons aren’t going back in the bottle, and they are causing chaos on the Republican side, and the establishment Republicans are befuddled about what to with it. I think Senator Clinton is going, to win but this is really going to be harmful for the conservative movement.”

The Clinton campaign said in a statement this morning that as president, she would fight for a national standard allowing early voting to begin 20 days or more before an election.

“Beginning today statewide, Floridians have the chance to vote early to build the future that every hard-working American deserves,” Clinton said. “I hope Floridians take the chance to get out and vote early in this election, because the stakes couldn’t be higher.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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