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Mitch Perry Report for 5.7.15 — On economic issues, is Mike Huckabee more in synch with GOP voters?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As has been mentioned by reporters like myself for months now, Republicans thinking about being president have picked up on the whole income inequality mantle that Democrats like Elizabeth Warren have championed for years now.

By that, I mean they use the words “economic inequality.” Beyond that, it’s not exactly clear what they are offering in the way of substantive programs to overcome that. (Marco Rubio has been a bit more specific on that front,)

Enter Mike Huckabee.

The former Arkansas governor’s entry into the presidential race has been dutifully noted by all this week, but let’s face it: There’s not much pizazz associated with him as there has been with the majority of the candidates who, for all of their fame, have never actually run for president before (folks like Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, etc.). We’ve been here before with “Huck.” He ran and did well in 2008, winning seven states before flaming out against John McCain. And then he opted not to run four years ago. So it feels like his time has passed.

But one thing that he has that the other guys don’t is an authenticity with the working class. As E.J. Dionne notes, a recent Washington Post/ABC News survey shows that 37 percent of registered voters who identified themselves as Republican earned less than $50,000 a year. Another 34 percent earned between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. There are a lot of rank and file Republicans who can relate a lot more to Huckabee than the other candidates.

On his first full day on the campaign trail yesterday, Huckabee visited a privately owned valve company called Clow Valve in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he complimented the company for offering benefits that many other employers have cut or reduced.

“I don’t see many companies that still take care of things like pensions and health insurance for employees and their families,’’ he said. “That’s remarkable. It’s pretty rare these days.’’

He also discussed his opposition to giving fast-track trade authority to the president, a position that aligns him with Democrats like Kathy Castor and against most of his GOP presidential brethren.

“I know some people are saying the only thing that matters are corporate profits,’’ Huckabee said. “I’d like to think the United States government would stand up for United States workers rather than let them take it in the backside and have to tough it out because somebody got wealthy at their expense.’’

It’s my belief that the more centrist a Republican is on certain key issues, the better chance they have of becoming president next year. Like he said on Tuesday in his announcement speech in Hope, he’s not going to be the guy with the most money in the race, which is a big deal. But on the issues? He may be much closer to the GOP base of primary voters than all the other guys. But will it be enough in this crowded field?

In other news…

Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate next year, setting the Florida political establishment somewhat aflame. In case you weren’t sure of this Volusia County area congressman’s bona fides, the Tea Party aligned FreedomWorks PAC quickly came out of the gate to endorse him. Shortly afterwards, the Florida Democratic Party took over the domain for RonDeSantis2016.com to let everyone know how much of a Tea Party guy DeSantis actually is.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush penned an op-ed regarding his thoughts on Baltimore and the struggles it faces. Bush prescribed his elixir of reforming schools as the answer to urban America’s downfalls.

Newsflash: Jeb Bush isn’t expected to do well in Iowa next year (IF he runs, wink-wink). A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday shows that in fact Bush is sort of floundering there, while Marco Rubio is ascending.

The Hillsborough County Commission wants a Plant City winery owner whose ethics charge against Al Higginbotham failed to get recognized by the state to pony up the legal fees for Higgy’s attorney.

And a host of Florida Democrats trashed Rick Scott over his unsuccessful meeting with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell yesterday in D.C., including Kathy Castor.

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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