Adam Smith reports that Rick Perry’s presidential campaign is making serious inroads into Florida.
Perry campaign officials are talking to some of the top Republican strategists, including former George W. Bush Florida 2004 chief Brett Doster and the Tallahassee team of Randy Enwright, Jim Rimes and Rich Heffley. The late entry into the contest has also contacted many of the state’s top money-raisers and found some keen interest.
“You will see quite a number of top fundraisers come on board for Perry. I’ve talked to many of my Republican friends in Florida and there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for Perry,” said St. Petersburg doctor Akshay “A.K.” Desai, a top GOP fundraiser helping host Perry’s first Florida fundraiser, tentatively planned for Sept. 13 somewhere in the Tampa Bay area. “Some of the people who signed up with other candidates, I think you will see moving to Perry.”
Additionally, I’ve previously written about how Rick Scott may play kingmaker for Perry here in Florida.
Florida Governor Rick Scott who, despite being the most unpopular governor in the country, controls the official Republican Party of Florida apparatus and holds sway with a great deal of the state’s Tea Party activists.
Evoking Charlie Crist’s last-minute, game-changing endorsement of John McCain, which helped propelled the Senator to the nomination with a decisive win in Florida, Rick Scott throws whatever resources and respect he commands behind his man-crush Rick Perry. Media says Scott’s endorsement is the kiss of death, but among some Tea Party elements, it’s the sign they have been waiting for.
The main obstacle to all of this is what does Jeb and the rest of the Bush clan think of all this Rick-Perry-wins-Florida mumbo-jumbo.
“The question for Perry will be, whether in weeks and months ahead he’ll make other misstatements like the one on, in the my opinion, on Ben Bernanke he’s guilty of treason or that there is a divide between the two men. If I were running for president I’d want to grab the former governor of Texas and former president of the U.S. and make sure his people were in my camp.”
The most obvious sign of the Bush family’s disdain for Perry can be seen in consigliere Sally Bradshaw’s very public snubbing of the Perry’s overtures that she come work for him.
Bradshaw, who helped Mitt Romney in his 2008 bid, has been courted by Rick Perry backers in recent weeks but said she’s going to focus on other priorities and opportunities:
“For Haley I would have made it work because of my relationship to him and his team,” Bradshaw said. “But once he decided not to run, I’ve decided to regroup and refocus on children, family, other things.”
So how can Perry win Florida’s presidential primary without Jeb Bush’s consent?
Continuing to rack up the endorsements of Republican state legislators, as Perry has done in the first week of his candidacy is one way. Already, Perry has earned the endorsement of Sen. Don Gaetz and Reps. Jeff Brandes, Clay Ingram and Matt Gaetz. Speaker Dean Cannon is said to be close to endorsing Perry any day now.
Another must-do is for Perry to sign some serious political talent. Hiring Doster and/or Enwright, Heffley & Rimes should be a top priority. Many of the other best and the brightest in Florida’s GOP are still on the sidelines, having never been comfortable with Mitt Romney, but still not sure about Perry.
Once Perry has a top-notch staff in place, he needs to march on the Republican Party of Florida’s ‘Presidency 5’ straw poll like MacArthur into the Phillipines. Win that straw poll and Romney may never recover in Florida.
But first, Perry has to come to Florida — and often. I am intrigued to see how Perry’s over-sized persona plays in Miami and Tampa. Floridians and Texans are two very different types of people and so it will be interesting to see how Perry plays in Orlando and St. Pete.
Of course, there is one endorsement Perry could garner which would make it unnecessary for Perry to earn Jeb’s support: Marco Rubio. But that may come at the cost of a spot on the ticket.