GOP presidential campaign comes to Orlando with a gubernatorial cattle call

in 2017/Top Headlines by

The busy 2016 GOP presidential campaign moves to Florida for the first time this year on Tuesday, when seven Republican presidential or soon-to-be presidential candidates gather at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

The official name of the event is the Economic Growth Summit, being sponsored by Gov. Rick Scott‘s Let’s Get To Work Political Action Committee. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (appearing via video because of Senate votes), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are scheduled to appear.

Believe it or not, only two are official candidates: Rubio and Huckabee. The rest are still “actively exploring” a candidacy, meaning they can continue to raise unlimited amounts of money via their super PACS until they officially declare. Perry is scheduled to make such an announcement this week.

This major event is being hosted by Scott’s PAC and not the Republican Party of Florida illustrates that the governor has always been something of an independent player working outside the party system. When he ran for governor in 2010, the GOP establishment mostly shunned him in favor of Bill McCollum in the GOP primary.

Scott has definitely separated himself from the party since the ouster of Leslie Dougher as party chair in January. Dougher was Scott’s hand-picked choice to lead as she did in 2014, but the RPOF put in Hernando County state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia.

Scott continues to raise money for Let’s Get to Work, which has paid for television commercials this year that push his legislative agenda. It’s also fed speculation that he’ll run for U.S. Senate in 2018, when term limits put him out of office.

The Tuesday event takes place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center. Each candidate will have 30 minutes to speak and presumably take questions.

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