Report: Emails Link Jeb Bush to Florida’s Move to ‘Winner-Take-All’ Presidential Primary

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

As some in Florida have long suspected, the fix to eventually help former Florida Governor Jeb Bush win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination has already come to pass.

The Intercept was able to obtain emails between Jeb Bush and state Representative Matt Gaetz where the two men coordinated the “fix” by pushing back Florida’s presidential primary to favor the former governor.

State Representative Matt Gaetz wrote to Bush on January 2 that he is “concerned that Florida’s current primary date will lead to proportional allocation of delegates” and that a “winner take all” system would be preferable.

“Unless you ask me otherwise, I’ll file legislation to move our primary date back a week,” Gaetz told Bush, who responded to say that his political advisor Sally Bradshaw would give Gaetz a call. “10 4,” Gaetz shot back.

The email exchange had begun with Bush emailing Gaetz, the son of State Senator Don Gaetz, president of the Florida Senate in the previous session. Bush thanked the younger Gaetz for his “willingness to head to Iowa to go door to door,” adding, “Wow, what a generous offer! Happy New Year!”

Gaetz’s boss, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, has already endorsed Jeb Bush for his upcoming 2016 presidential run, and now the bill filed that would push back Florida’s primary to March 15 was rushed through the legislature and recently signed into law by current Florida Governor Rick Scott.

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that sets the date of Florida’s primary as March 15, the first date on which states may award their full quantity of delegates on a winner-take-all basis under Republican National Committee rules. States scheduling primaries between March 1 and 14 must award delegates in proportion to the percentage of votes they receive or lose half their delegates, as Florida Republicans did in 2012.

As the Palm Beach Post noted, the bill appears to be a “a boon for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush, who both are considering a presidential run.” Such a front-loaded system often benefits establishment candidates with the most money to spend on television advertisements, as was the case with Mitt Romney in Florida in the 2012 race.

Florida, the state Bush governed for two terms, is perhaps the most important primary election for Bush in his expected quest to secure the GOP presidential nomination. Bush could lose the first few primary elections — which award delegates on a proportional basis — yet come out decisively in the lead in terms of delegates if he is able to win Florida’s winner-take-all primary, with its projected 99 delegates.

Aside from the Bush team’s $50 million “Homeland Security” effort to shore up Florida for Jeb, Team Jeb had to bus in supporters to help suppress any and all jeering by activists at his recent CPAC Q&A session in Washington, D.C.

This same kind of behavior was last seen during the 2010 U.S. Senate race between then-Republican Charlie Crist and now-Senator Marco Rubio, when Team Crist and other establishment Republicans tried to push Rubio out of the race at all costs.

Their efforts failed, but could their efforts succeed in 2016?


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