Bush and Rubio, once top 2016 hopefuls, pale in year after Tampa RNC

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For a brief moment, it seemed that Florida had broken its streak of lousy luck in fielding presidential candidates. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush both seemed to be the ones to overcome, on top of almost every survey of likely contenders for 2016.

Bush and Rubio had notable appearances at the 2012 RNC in Tampa one year ago this week. Rubio was the opening act for nominee Mitt Romney.

According to William March of the Tampa Tribune, right now things are looking different.

Both have dropped in the polls, and a few pundits aren’t even including Bush in their rankings, doubtful that he will even run.

Currently overshadowing the Floridians are relative newcomers, like Sens. Ted Cruz from Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. After polling in the top tier with Republicans in January, a July McClatchy-Marist poll showed Rubio in third and Bush in fourth.

One recent Public Policy Polling survey put Rubio in sixth place; another had Rubio’s approval ratings dropping by double digits to 58 percent.

It is the hard-right shift in the GOP undermining the prospects of either Rubio or Bush. Conservatives and Tea Party ideologues view the two politicians (as well as their positions on signature issues) with suspicion—education for Bush and immigration for Rubio.

Even though Florida is the fourth most populous state, its track record of producing presidential candidates is “pretty bleak,” according to former University of South Florida political scientist Darryl Paulson. The only serious candidates in the recent past were Reubin Askew and Bob Graham, both “dismal failures,” he told the Tribune.

But that doesn’t mean Rubio and Bush doesn’t have staying power. With 3½ years to go until the 2016 presidential election, there is no doubt there will be many shifting positions. Not everyone is writing them off just yet. If Bush does decide to run, his star could certainly brighten once again.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.