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Mitch Perry Report for 2.10.16 – The GOP is still looking for its establishment candidate

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

So much for “Marcomentum.”

Eight days ago, the national media, with some justification, was spreading the word that Marco Rubio was the unexpected star of the Iowa caucus, despite the fact that he received fewer votes than Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Rubio began rising in the polls in NH, and it seemed that the battle of the governors (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich) was all about who would come in third, and live to continue their campaign.

That didn’t happen.

Rubio finished fifth in New Hampshire last night, not only behind Trump and Cruz again, but also behind John Kasich and Jeb Bush.

So now who is the Republican Party establishment going to rally around to stop the Trump machine?

Based on last night, it perhaps should be Kasich, who Democrats have always acknowledged would be a formidable general election candidate, if he could somehow survive a very conservative GOP primary season. Kasich isn’t really getting all that much love from the punditry, however, not like Rubio did last week. He should, though. For months Kasich, Bush and Christie had decided to put all their chips into the Granite State, and it was the Ohio Governor who came out on top with a solid second place finish with nearly 16 percent of the vote.

Donald Trump received 34 percent in winning, but Kasich deserves credit — he got more votes than the other two governors with which he was competing. Pundits are dismissing it, however, saying that he can’t win in the South. Well, maybe not South Carolina, but Kasich does have solid conservative credentials, despite what Bush and his Super PAC was telling NH voters.

Although he’s not being mentioned that often today, Ted Cruz’ third place finish is impressive, since NH didn’t seem to be a state that was ever going to favor him. He certainly will be a major contender in the Southern states.

Jeb Bush and his minions are selling his fourth place finish as a comeback, which is smart. Bush is performing well as a candidate, and it will be fascinating to see if he can break through the Trump insurgency in South Carolina.

It looks like Chris Christie is done, and, purely for entertainment sake, that’s a sad development. The New Jersey Governor has definitely made this campaign more entertaining, and his takedown on Rubio on Saturday night will never be forgotten by political junkies. However, the numbers simply weren’t there for him last night.

And Rubio? It was a great first step to admitting in his concession speech last night that he failed under the klieg lights on Saturday evening. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech last night, we all fall at some point in life. It’s all about getting back up.

Meanwhile, how freaked out is the Democratic Party establishment about the utter rejection that Hillary Clinton received last night? Judging by some of her surrogates, not very. They continue to say that Bernie Sanders is a limited candidate, and I agree that he has got to get his act together regarding foreign policy.

However it is so obvious that he seems genuine to Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he’s got momentum (and money) going into the Nevada, South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday states.

Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that Trump’s victory is proof positive that extremist elements have infiltrated the GOP mainstream.

Joe Gruters, Trump’s Florida chair, says his smashing victory is an overwhelming rebuke to the GOP establishment.

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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