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Will Scott Walker Sit Out The Florida Primary?

Will Scott Walker Sit Out The Florida Primary?

…what will Florida voters think?

Florida will be (as it has been) a pivotal state in the 2016 general election. Its 29 electoral votes will loom large in the race to reach 270—but how much will it matter in the GOP primary? With Florida favorites Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio expected to compete for most of the votes, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (who has yet to officially declare his candidacy) has left the door open to skipping the Florida primary:

Speaking to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Walker said if he does jump in the 2016 race, “I don’t think there’s a state out there we wouldn’t play in.”

“Other than, maybe, Florida, where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are … in some of the polls, essentially tied,” he said, naming the former governor and current senator who are headed down a collision course in their home state’s primary this cycle.

You can listen to the audio here:

Walker may have a point, but it seems kind of odd that he would announce something like this with nearly eight months before the first primary in 2016. In addition, the schedule is different this time around:

Florida played a pivotal role in the 2012 GOP nominating contest, giving Mitt Romney a boost that solidified his frontrunner status in the nominating fight. The state’s 2016 primary is scheduled for much later, in mid-March, the earliest date allowed by the Republican National Committee for states to allocate its delegates on a winner-take-all basis.

In 2012 the primary was on January 31. This year it is on March 15. Primaries often become a matter of momentum and Walker can’t say for sure Jeb or Rubio will still be in the race by March 15, 2016.

Why concede anything at this point? Voters are drawn to candidates who project confidence (not arrogance) and this makes it look like Walker doesn’t want to waste time. Also, knowing how the press reacts, Walker will now have to face questions about this.

In addition, what will Florida voters think? They’re fickle, and Walker’s comments could be construed as, “I’m not going to bother.”

Time will tell. That said, the race is still at a very early stage. Walker should concern himself more with the short term and worry about Florida when he sees what the field looks like at the end of January.


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He said “maybe”. He’s a smart guy, and he just threw out some uncertainty that everyone else now has to deal with.

    Yes, it was a perfectly reasonable point and operational theory, but I believe GOP candidates have to be more careful about “thinking out loud” in front of the lefty press, who will be doing everything they can to discredit them. No use handing them stuff to smear you with; make them work for it.

      Ragspierre in reply to DJ9. | May 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      You misunderstood me. I didn’t mean to suggest it was a faux pas by Walker.

      I think he did it by design, and it worked!

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Ragspierre. | May 27, 2015 at 1:50 pm

        Yup. We already knew he may or may not go to Florida. That’s the magic of “may or may not” statements – it basically adds nothing not already known before it was said. It’s safe. And it generates articals and coverage. And it gets reporters asking questions. And it all serves to help separate a candidate from an increasingly crowded GOP field.

        Yeah, this guy screwed up, huh? lol


        The writer ascribes one possible reason to skip Florida – to save time. Not exactly. Save money. That’s an appropriate calculation – is it worth the money to run full tilt in a state almost certainly to go to Bush or Rubio? They might think the same about Texas, where it’s hard to see anyone other than Cruz or Perry winning.

          Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm

          Great lesson in strategery from “The 13th Warrior” (a great picture, IMNHO)…

          I paraphrase…”Any fool can calculate strength. Now he has to calculate what he can’t see.”

          Uncertainty is a VERY powerful tool, for good or ill. Walker just sewed some, and now his opponents have to try to deal with it!


    Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | May 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    He probably forgot Florida is later this year. Nine states are on Super Tueday (3/1), five more the following week, and Florida, Illinois, and Missouri vote on the 15th.

    It is not likely both Jeb and Rubio will be viable by then, and if they are, Walker will likely be out.

I live in FL. If it came down to Jeb, Rubio, or Walker, I’d vote for Walker whether he came here or not.

Walker would probably hurt Rubio more than Bush if he did run in Florida. Given that, let Rubio have the chance of taking Bush out.

I’m in Florida and will vote for Walker in the primary, assuming he doesn’t blow up in the interim.

I’m with Yujin and Immolate. I vote in Florida and think Walker is the only conservative who can beat Hillary. The only one with “gravitas”, although Rubio is very good too. It would be stupid for Walker to skip the Florida primary.

Sammy Finkelman | May 27, 2015 at 10:02 am

Florida is a winner-take-all primary (for the Republicans. Republicans, generally at least, follow state law, and Democrats do not. State laws are not binding on national party conventions, according to a 1972 Supreme Court decision.)

Joe Klein writes in the current (June 1, 2015) issue of TIME magazine (page 25) that either Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush is expected to win Florida’s primary, and the other will drop out.

I think actually it’s more likely Marco Rubio would drop out if he loses, but the same is not true for Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush can sustain a loss, especially if he comes in a good second, and he can also probably expect to get Marco Rubio’s delegates on the first ballot, if Marco Rubio later drops out) as is more than likely. (much like Jimmy Carter collected George Wallace’s endorsement and delegates in 1976.)

If Scott Walker campaigned in Florida, he’d be wasting time and effort – and money, which is limited under campaign finance reform – so he won’t participate unless he has a good shot at coming in first, so long as that is nt taken as dropping out in general.

Florida is a relatively early primary, and he can skip it and spend more time in the states with the previous and following primaries, where maybe he won’t be competing againsta full complement, and in any case, where there won’t be any favorite sons.

Favorite sons are a good excuse for skipping a state – all the Demorats except Senator Tom Harkin skipped the Iowa caucuses in 1992 (Harkin got 76%, Uncommitted 12%, Tsongas 4% and Clinton 3%. Sen Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Jerry Brown got 2%. These were mostly unsolicited)

Like the other Floridians, if it’s a primary with Jeb, Rubio, and Walker, I’m voting Walker.

Hopefully, we’ll have other *cough* *Cruz* *cough* choices.

For you GOP primary voters, Florida’s Republican party is now a winner-take-all state.

I am no longer a Republican, so I don’t have a dog in this fight and no longer care. My expectation is that this change will benefit the GOPe and Bush over any non-GOPe challenger like Walker or Paul.

I think that it’s pretty clear that Walker is the only candidate with a record of accomplishment in the very areas that our nation needs attention. Wasting time in Florida for that which cannot be his, just doesn’t make sense and he’s one sensible guy.

If he stays on message, and nothing develops scandal-wise, his path to the White House should be attainable. Once there, we all better hope that he can perform as well as he has in Wisconsin…

Marla Hughes | May 27, 2015 at 11:34 pm

I don’t know why there is an automatic assumption that a candidate will take their state. Isn’t it statistically more likely that they won’t?
I agree that Walker introduced a measure of doubt, but IMO that doubt is whether either Bush or Rubio will take the state in the first place. His response had that big IF in it, as do most of the comments above. However, the media keeps assuming either/or on who takes the state and emphasize how the polls look. All of the polls are about name recognition right now and Walker knows it. I don’t think he’s worried about either Bush or Rubio taking Florida specifically because they’re from here and he shouldn’t be.

dorsaighost | May 28, 2015 at 1:28 am

at this point Bush and Rubio won’t bother to run ads against Walker in Florida … which may be the exact reason to make a statement like Walker did … he may have ensured no negative ads for the next 6 months and later on if he does well in the early primaries he can go all in in Florida after having caused Bush and Rubio to miss their opportunity to attack him …