Political Musical Chairs – Bondi Poised To Replace Rubio in 2016

    Fresh off her convincing re-election as Attorney General, Tampa’s Pam Bondi steamrolls Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater & Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam in a hypothetical Republican Primary in 2016.


    By Jacob Engels


    After being re-elected as Florida’s Attorney General earlier this month, political prognosticators praised Bondi’s political longevity in her current office – but had no clear prediction of what her next step was. Well, a new poll conducted by a non-partisan polling firm based out of Winter Springs would seem to suggest Pam Bondi’s next step in her political career should be a run for the United States Senate in 2016. The poll surveyed 811 Republican voters across the sunshine state, and has a margin of error of ± 3%.


    The poll, conducted earlier this month after the mid-term elections is predicated upon a few major shifts in Florida’s political landscape. First, before there could be a GOP primary for Marco Rubio’s senate seat – the first term senator must elect not to run for re-election. Rubio, long talked about as a serious contender for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2016 – has faced several setbacks in the past two years that some view as detrimental to his White House ambitions.


    When he urged his fellow Republicans to take a more moderate stance on the DREAM Act, it hurt the presidential hopefuls standing with the conservative wing of the party. However, Rubio has toed the line with the Republican Party on almost every other issue and has worked to rehab his “street cred” with the right-wing of the party. A new book, authored by Rubio accounting his life-story is set to be released in the coming months – and is widely viewed as a the final test for Rubio, one that will help him determine if he the support for a presidential run is still there.


    Which leads us to the focus of this poll, Rubio’s theoretical run for the Presidency and the battle amongst Republicans to secure the nomination to have a shot at replacing Rubio in the Senate. The Gravis Marketing poll, done in partnership with Human Events – pits Pam Bondi, Jeff Atwater, & Adam Putnam against one another in GOP primary for Rubio’s seat.


    38% of respondents said that they would support current Attorney General Pam Bondi if she chose to vacate her office halfway into her second term for a shot at the US Senate. Former Senate President & Current Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater garnered 17% and former Congressman turned Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam snagged 16%, with 29% still undecided.


    “Pam Bondi was the big winner this past election that no one has really given due credit. She brilliantly moved to the right and is one of the most conservative Republican politicians in the state,” Gravis Marketing owner Doug Kaplan told us.


    He also added that Jeff Atwater & Adam Putnam are both strong contenders. Each have been rumored to have great interest in running for Governor in 2018, but Rubio running for re-election would create a scenario that could have them both reconsidering a gubernatorial run.


    So, where does that leave Rubio and his presidential ambitions? Gravis’ poll also asked Florida voters who they would vote for in a theoretical presidential primary between two Florida heavyweights – US Senator Marco Rubio & former Governor Jeb Bush. According to several news reports, the Bush family says that the former Governor is about 50-50 on whether or not he wants to fight to become the third Bush to sit in the Oval Office.


    44% of respondents said they would support Jeb Bush, while 34% sided with Marco Rubio. 22% remain undecided.


    “I am not convinced Bush will run, but this poll tells me that he is still very popular. Rubio could maintain his seat, and run in 20 years and still be younger than Hillary Clinton,” explained Kaplan.


    Kaplan also conducted a broad field poll – which included Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Nikki Hayley, and Paul Ryan. Bush garnered a whopping 33% of the vote, with Rubio closest behind at 14%.


    While the Gravis poll numbers help us understand where Republican voters stand in these theoretical match-ups – one thing is left out, who would fill out the remainder of the terms of three cabinet officials who would have to resign in order to run for the US Senate.


    Attorney General — State Senator David Simmons, who served previously in the Florida House of Representatives certainly would be the best choice for Attorney General spot. Simmons is a well respected legislator with a gifted legal mind, and a true statesman.


    Chief Financial Officer — Soon to be termed out State Representative Jimmy Patronis is a top pick for CFO. Patronis, who has served as a bank director for over 10 years and is a respected businessman – will be at the beginning of his term on the Public Service Commission which runs until 2019. Patronis was an early supporter of Governor Scott in 2010, and is well liked amongst his Tallahassee counterparts.


    Agriculture Commissioner — In the Agriculture Commissioner spot, former State Senator Carey Baker who dropped out of a primary to be the GOP nominee for the office to future Commissioner Adam Putnam – possesses a work ethic and positive demeanor needed in the capitol. Baker is Sergeant in the Florida National Guard and was elected property appraiser in Lake County in 2012.


    To view the full results of the Gravis poll, click here.



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at info@eastorlandopost.com