The Real Rubio Legacy

Washington insiders and talking heads have been abuzz all week with discussion of Marco Rubio joining the national GOP ticket in the fall. After all, Mitt Romney needs to win Florida in November and the convention this year is in Tampa. As a US Senator Marco Rubio has quickly cultivated a national profile and a kinder, gentler image. Perhaps owing itself to handlers that see Rubio as the GOP’s biggest star, the one time firebrand continues to vote a dangerously ideological line but is not making the type of bombastic and provocative statements he did while in the Florida House.

Almost from the onset of Rubio’s legislative career, which began with a January 2000 Special Election (full disclosure: in that campaign I walked door to door against Rubio, as did many of the state young Democrats) the Miami based Republican took a strong conservative tone.

In the state legislature, Rubio often waved the flag and led the push for conservative causes. While careful with his words, Rubio often baited the public, implying Democrats and even some Senate Republicans were socialists and did not believe in free enterprise. Even by the low standards of the Florida House, Rubio’s rhetorical barbs seemed incendiary and completely over the top. Jeb Bush even dubbed Rubio “the great conservative warrior,” while he was in the State House.

Rubio’s alliance with controversial House members didn’t help either. Rep. Ralph Arza, Rubio’s closest ally in the House, was forced to resign after using a racial slur to describe Miami-Dade Superintendent Rudy Crew, an African-American. Arza, who had become the right wing’s chief education “reform” advocate in the legislature, had been elevated to a position of incredible visibility and responsibility by Rubio.

The other dangerously close local ally of Rubio in the State House was the enigmatic and allegedly corrupt David Rivera. The Miami lawmaker made a splash in 2002 when he hit a mail truck carrying fliers for his opponent. The mail truck missed the deadline to get the piece into voters mailbox before the September 10th GOP primary. After Rivera won his primary Rubio cultivated him as a leader in the House-eventually helping him land a seat in Congress in 2010. Rivera’s scandals of personal finance, misleading journalists about his employment, potentially improper payments from gambling interests and FDLE investigations are too numerous to discuss in this post. But despite this, Rubio continued his support and active backing of Rivera.

As Speaker of the Florida House, Rubio was ideological to the core. Faced with a populist Governor in Charlie Crist, Rubio did little to forge consensus but instead continued the influence of Jeb Bush on the Florida Legislature. Prior to becoming Speaker, Rubio had forged right wing positions on issues such as Terry Schiavo, public funding of reproductive rights, guns, education “reform”, legal reform and worker compensation. With the possible exception of gun control, this put Rubio far to the right of Charlie Crist approaching the 2010 US Senate Primary.

In retrospect, Crist’s biggest mistake was thinking his general moderation as Governor in 2007 and early 2008, as well as his populist record as Attorney General from 2003 to 2007 (including taking on price gouging, civil rights issues and the insurance company) would be enough to beat Rubio in the primary. From 2003 to early 2008, Crist’s positions were often in conflict with the Bush/Rubio world view. But Crist had previously won GOP primaries against more conservative candidates and it can be understood why he thought he would do so again.

In 2009, Crist compiled his most conservative record since early in his State Senate term. The Governor, who had stressed moderation and had seemingly been made of teflon for years, marched to the right. Yet Crist could not stop the Rubio juggernaut that had been promoted by right wing think tanks and conservative talking heads on FOX News and other media outlets that support GOP candidates. Rubio’s rhetoric throughout 2009 was that of a tea party Republican whose electoral and legislative experience made him a dangerous prospect to lead the movement for years to come.

By the time Crist moved back to the middle and eventually left the GOP, Rubio had been thrust into the national spotlight as the next big thing in national politics. With a Democratic Party divided between its own nominee Kendrick Meek and the former Republican, Charlie Crist, Rubio’s election was assured. It was at this time Rubio toned down his rhetoric and adopted a “kindler, gentler” approach publicly.

It is important that voters of Florida and the nation are not fooled. Rubio is still a dangerous ideologue who has rarely, if ever, cast a moderate vote and has never promoted consensus as a way of governing. His ascension onto the national scene is a potential disaster for Democrats as he has the charisma, and media backing, to be a defining figure nationally. Here in Florida we blew our opportunity to stop him. Let us hope we can contain him at the national level in the months and years to come.

101 thoughts on “The Real Rubio Legacy”

  1. Goodness. Perhaps if we hadn’t been so ridiculuos in our rhetoric we would have been able to combat him and Bush. Meek was a mistake. Chris Smith and Dan Gelber deluded lefties who fought losing battles that let Rubio, Arza and Rivera walk all over them. We needed Saunders pragmatism badly back then.

  2. Before or after he was an I. Regardless if you like Charlie this shows you how bad the Democratic Party is. Rubio was the Rs Obama.
    Crist is awful just wait until the summer and look at his voting patterns. I am pushing Dyer

  3. Area calling people the N word. What is the difference between D and R? I am done with Ds.
    Change to an I. Voting Romney, Nelson,

  4. Crist is a joke. Rubio was getting in regardless but now the Ds have nada because they sold out on the people they serve. Obama sucks too. I am voting for Romney, Nelson and that’s it

  5. Rubio could have been beat had we nominated a sf financing moderate like Jeff Greene. Running against 2 Republicans with money to burn and a strong business background, we would have stopped him.

    Greene fits the moderate profile of so many successful past Democrats.

  6. Greene is a piece of garbage….no doubt. I bet he supplied the secret service with the hookers.

  7. Crist is a joke. So is Meek. Crist pandered to the liberals with a terrible attack on insurance.

    I like Greene. He could have beaten Rubio for sure.

  8. Bell is not a Democrat. He’s close with the GOP & Dems locally. But he is not a major contributor to most.

  9. I do not have any problem with Greene going to Cuba. The embargo is dumb anyhow, part of the stupid Republican policy is favoring Cuban American interests above that of other immigrant groups or voting constituencies.

    I hope we get new candidates here in Palm Beach. Younger Democrats to run. I was excited to hear that Mark Pafford may run for higher office. He is a strong liberal. Jeff Clemems is good too but a bit unrefined and rough around the edges. I like Tara Laxer in more ways than one, Tara is a good liberal and did a great job on Jewish issues etc. Ted Deutch is rudderless without Laxer. The other good young possible candidate is Delray Commissioner Adam Frankel who is strong locally.

  10. Gertrude,

    When he ran last time it was in the news papers and T.V.
    He paid off the DNC

    Drugs and hookers with Tyson

    And is awful on the environment as well as woman with the whole reef thing.

    He makes Herman Caine look like a feminist.

    This guy is nuts and so is the party if this joke plans to run or do some SUPERPAC that he thinks won’t be traced back.
    There is always a record with this. In PBC everyone talks and there is always proof.

    Is that true with Bell? Don’t know him. I heard he was a Democrat

  11. Danny,

    Clemens is a joke but votes the right way. He is done. Pafford is just plan silly and I don’t think he will be able to run for a higher office. I like Frankel and Laxer. Deutch is so so. I think he is just scared because he surrounds himself with different people. Laxer was too smart and strong for him. Laxer is great on the social issues, strong on Israel (kind of like how the Rs are seen but not crazy) I am interested to see what happens with Bernard’s staff.

  12. Laxer should not run. She is a good policy person but not a good candidate. Abruzzo should hire her as his Chief of Staff.

  13. Frankel is going to be good and Bernard too. We need some more women maybe Stern, Laxer and bring Bradenburg back. I like Deutch he is GREAT. His staff is slow but he is good. I just don’t like that he is getting involved where he should not with local races. I think Abruzzo is a tool (they are not backing him for real) No way they would be so dumb. Watch out for Slosberg. He has a bunch of tricks for South County

  14. Concerned Democrat

    All ridiculous choices. Stern a dud last time. Her ties through her mother lobbyist make her a problem. Laxer had her chance and blew it. Deutch wanted her for House 78 and she demanded his Senate seat or so I hear. This is despite Maria Sachs’ years and years of advocacy. Frankel? Never, I am for Kristen Jacobs or anybody who runs against Frankel.

    Abruzzo is the real deal. He is young, moderately liberal and very good person to person. Aronberg, Deutch, and the rest of the leadership all back him strongly. Laxer could work for him but she might be plotting to run herself so he may need someone more loyal.

  15. Stern is great. Deutch never backed Laxer for anything he pushed Slosberg, Sachs and Rader. Laxer was going to run for 90. I created the recruit Laxer page. Frankel is going to win. Kristen is a joke. Abruzzo is no brains but lots of cash. I think Abruzzo would attack Laxer if she worked for him. lol …he is a goof. I hope Mary B if not Laxer runs against Abruzzo…even Sachs is better. The biggest disappointment is spine. I think Laxer is doing something big! I dont think anyone will see it coming.

  16. Who are any of you kidding. The Democrats will have 0 power in the Senate or the House. So Abruzzo, Ring, Margolis, Slosberg or a empty seat will do the same job. For some weird reason “the establishment” wants Abruzzo because of money and Laxer’s name keeps coming up. Looks like Siegal and others want Abruzzo bc $ and people want her. I heard she is going to put together an ALEC organization or something..maybe run. She is damm smart.

    I think Deutch was smart for not keeping her…He would of just held her back. Wexler-love that man like my hemorrhoids. Deutch needs to step away from those guys before he screwed….really screawed.

  17. Principled Penny

    Laxer, as she likes to refer to herself in this blog, needs to stop bringing her own name into every blog Kartik writes, especially when the actual article has nothing to do with her, and more often than not nothing to do with Palm Beach County.

  18. Plotting. Why is it if a woman runs she is plotting and if it is a guy he is planning. The only reason why the Ds are still a group is because the Rs are worse off….for now
    Lets see what happens after the investigations.

  19. Concerned Democrat

    Laxer herself isn’t blogging but some of the gadfly activists that back her and exaggerate how bad every vote made in the legislature is.

    No question Laxer has some support. She just does not have enough to be a viable candidate and she lacks the discipline and respect for elders needed to be effective.

  20. Agree w redbull. On this subject Laxer should run. She is 10000 x better than Abruzzo who votes for guns, vouchers and pollution. I hope Tara runs, I will walk precincts and knock on doors for her.

  21. calliopeinbroward

    Brandeburg was a co-sponsor of the Stand your Ground bill, and tight with Marian Hammer. Let her stay away.

  22. While Laxer has some support from gadfly activists as a good Democrat she should decline to run against Abruzzo and divide the party. While these activists are fabulous and Laxer has strong support from them and while they will work hard for her, they cannot raise money and she will not be able to communicate with the voters. It is best for her that she does not run.

  23. Concerned Democrat

    While talking about the possible Abruzzo / Laxer race is interesting for us locals, seriously is Rubio going to be VP? Can Obama still win Florida if he is in the ticket?

  24. Big question is if Laxer runs would Deutch back her? He would want to because he is GREAT AND SHE GOT HIM ELECTED, but Wendi would be upset LOL!

  25. Bush is going to be the VP. Obama will loose while the Ds back Crist thinking that he is not going down with the Greer train…and probably talking half of South Palm Beach County with him.

  26. Who cares what Deutch does. She should run in race regardless what Abruzzo does as well. She has guts and brains which is currently lacking in this county. Aaronson will back Abruzzo and Deutch will probably screw her like he did last time. Deutch seems to not be able to do anything without permission from Aaronson lately. Agree about Wendi for some reason she is not a fan of Laxer, Skidmore, Bucher or Gannon.

    Rubio or Bush will be VP. Democrats loose up and down the ticket. Thank the establishment for this one. The only way to recover is for Obama to start creating jobs and do something new. For the party they need to start getting candidates in every race regardless if they have a chance..same message. They will not do it with the current ones…maybe with Lois but not with the rest. Deutch has to step up now and lead….without Wexler, Aaronson and Johnson. Otherwise as much as I worked to GOTV for him he will loose….under the bus with Wendi. Love out. Deutch will throw you under…don’t kid yourself.

  27. The state is done. No need for anyone good at this point. Since what happened in 2010 nothing will improve. It is not a D year but Rs need to spend spend spend money in order for them not to get slaughtered. Portman, Rubio or Bush as VP. Obama might have to start packing his bags and we will too. Vote I in 2012!

  28. Concerned Democrat

    I take it you mean lose not loose. Some if these activists aren’t the brightest bulbs. Some may even be illiterate! 🙂

  29. Concerned Palm Beach Democrat

    I agree. I hope Laxer runs and so does Sachs. Laxer takes out Abruzzo, Sachs beats Ellyn, and Weiss & Habndler are finished. I mean done! e Nobody can protect Weiss from the FBI, FDLE and the law. Even wimpy Dave Aronberg will have to fall in line with the FBI if Howie loeses big with Abruzzo. Dave is a baby bayby tool of Weiss and Aaronson.

    Tara does not permission to run.

  30. Concerned Palm Beach Democrat

    u r an idiot. Go back into hiding you Republican plant. Did you not teach Jeb Bush to play dredel?

  31. Concerned Democrat

    We need to rebuild the local party with young blood. Someone needs to get rid of Siege for party chair.

  32. Rubio has created an image nationally that does not match his record in Florida. He is seen as a super attractive figure going forward for the GOP. I think articles like this are critical to redefining who Rubio is. We have to hit him hard on his statements, votes, bills sponsored, etc at the state level. The national press has glorified him and as the enxt big thing. Very worrying.

  33. Laxer will not have the support of the leaders if she runs. Even Deutch does not want her running. She is fantastic but should use her energy to help our candidates and causes instead of creating primaries. Their are several reasons Laxer should not run which I will not list here because this is a civil forum. I do know Laxer has a lot of support among activists but they hardly if ever are responsible for winning primaries.

  34. Siegal is gone. Laxer will be supported by the voters. Deutch will support her otherwise everyone will see what is really going on…..Wexler, Aaronson, Johnson and Wendi …corruption. Don’t speak for us Morning Star…you have already messed up this county and trust me……I worked with you in the Boca office for years. Deutch is not dumb…we all hope.

    Rubio is very different from what he was like in Tally. Morning star you should call Deutch’s aid…unless you are scared that your phone is being tapped tapped….try to threaten her…you are will be in BIG trouble this time.

  35. Morning Star thanks for insulting all of his who sweat and work to elect good liberal candidates.

    I’ll make sure I work three times as hard for Laxer now.

  36. Let’s just ask Deutch himself. I am going to his townhall thing. If I get a chance I will ask him.

  37. Rubio is like Wexler or Crist. Too much baggage for any candidate to pick as a running mate or as an appointment. I think the bigger issue is what are the Democrats going to do if they pick Jeb. Sachs will be great in the Senate. Sachs surprised me lately. Bernard is also going to be good I think. I think we need to see what some others do.
    It really makes me sick when people try to discourage people to run. Activists vote and elected officials currently have very little push when it comes to newbies. I am excited also because I think Huntsman might run as a 3rd party candidate.


    Deutch probably will not back Laxer if she runs against Abruzzo. But that does not matter. Activists, people who care about issues and those fed up with the party bosses will. Deutch who got telected because of Laxer will look stupid when the sand castle falls into the ground. She will be a great Senator.

  39. I disagree. There is no way Deutch will not support her. I think he is a better man than that. At least is that what we hope. Deutch probably didn’t take Laxer because he was setting them up. I doubt Deutch is this dumb to not support his former aide..he is no Ron Klein.

  40. Its going to like this …so Morning Star can go back to sleep.

    Abruzzo vs Sach=Sachs wins
    Bernard, Clemens, Rader=Rader
    Jacobs, Frankel=Frankel, Bell, Hasner=Frankel
    Bogdanoff walks in a race
    Burt takes over the DEC with Wexler/Deutch aide Wendi
    push Crist for 2014
    Laxer and any new ones wait in 2 years for all of them to go to jail

    Any questions call morning star…….you know the number.


    “I support and endorse Joseph Abruzzo. Joseph has displayed an extraordinary understanding of how the legislative process works and how to successfully advocate for our issues,” said U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch.

    He will be terribly embarrassed when his former aide, Laxer beats Abruzzo badly if she runs. If not someone else will run and beat Abruzzo.

    He should support Laxer but has already endorsed Abruzzo. Enough said about him.

  42. PBC Change….Deutch endorsment does not mean anything. He endorsed Meek and helped Crist. He will be boxed in and he will be forced to retrack his endorsement. With the company he is keeping, the public might retrack their congressman. He will do it not because he is a good man but because his career will depend on it. What is he going to do when the cards fall. Depend on what staff? The one they are investigating? Rader might run to. Now that guy is another joke. He should stop taking to the feds too. Like they are going to find out?

  43. Endorsments mean nada. These schmucks have no balls. The people that all of Wexler/Deutch should be concerned with is Frankel. If they redistrict …Deutch is DONE!

  44. You all are so crazy. Laxer is not running for a state seat. She is going to run for a Congressional seat as an I. Watch. In this case a SuperPAC will change the county.

  45. Rubio like most of them are never seen by the way they vote. The problem with most of this is that the majority of these people are just reach or puppets who have a low self esteem. As you see the only Senators that actually get the issues were Joyner and Rich. We need a new party. screw the Ds and the Rs. Obama SUCKS! But Romney is worse so we are still screwed.

  46. If Laxer wants to run Deutch will be forced to back her.

    He may want to please his masters sticking with Abruzzo but the voters who elected him and love Laxer will force him to withdraw his endorsement and support her openly.

  47. Concerned Democrat

    Rubio will not be on the ticket. No chance. After the Palin experience they need to pick someone who has more expeirence. I’m worried about Jeb being on the ticket personally.

  48. We need new choices. I woukd encourage Laxer to run and to expose the corruption that eats away our institutions. We will all be better for it.

  49. What does everyone think Rubio’s huge speech on foreign policy is going to entail? I bet he says/BOMB IRAN.

  50. I worry about Rubio being on the ticket. We need to win the Latino vote big. They are 18% of the electorate and we won it 70-30 last time. Will Rubio move the Latino vote into the GOP column? I fear he will. He is young, well spoken and savvy. He is scary.

  51. Arza is a moron but his fall had more to do internal Cuban-American politics and Barriero’s faction than anything else. Arza gave them a sword to stick in his heart.

  52. The idea of a Laxer candidacy is scary. The activists are all salivating about her potentially taking on Abruzzo. We gave her a chance before and she declined and now her and some loud liberals threaten to derail what we’ve built. Joe Abruzzo has earned this and will be a great leader for our party and can run statewide soon. Maybe as early as 2018.

  53. Abruzzo is running for Congress isn’t he? He is waiting for the maps. Sachs will run for Senate and Rader too. This does not matter because the Ds are done because of Bobby and Company. Blame yourself

  54. So crazy Abruzzo and Pafford are the only one who announced in that area. Why are people worried about others when there are no districts yet. I am waiting for Domino.

    DS for Domino better than these loosens that the Ds put up

  55. The Rubio juggernaut is just beginning to roll. He’s campaigning with Romney tomorrow. It is simply terrible that we as a party here in Florida have fd up so freaking much to let this little twirp get this far.

  56. Rubio has the Obama passion. If he is picked Florida is done. There was no way to stop him even in 2010. Democrats loose because they have no guts and no plan. Obama only had passion. You can kiss this party goodbye not because of the Republicans but because of the Democrats here. Any of these people running are no good. You don’t run at this point when the Rs will have a super majority in Tallahassee and there are all the investigation going on. You have not seen anything yet. I love Aronberg…go get them!

  57. What investigations? Rubio isn’t the rock star in this state he is nationally. He may help the ticket in general but he does not bring a home state advantage to Florida that Crist could have brought McCain in 08.

  58. Concerned Democrat

    Rubio is very popular among Cuban Americans but the big question for Romeny is if he translates to other Hispanic groups and whether or not he turns off “gringos” in masse. I mean seriously a morman and a catholic Hispanic. good for the GOP showing diversity but we know half their voters are closet racists.

  59. Both parties are currently being investigated due to the signing off of funds by Charlie Crist. Crist and Rubio will not be picked for anything by either party. If they are they will have a big problem outside just the voters. Romney is going to pick Portman. They will win because it is not about Latinos, Women, Jewish People or African Americans…its the ECONOMY STUPID! Romney will win if the economy is not at least at 7% unemployment. If it is higher Obama looses by any candidate. The two of them are not that much different from each other. Socially Romney will pivot back as a moderate R with more brains than Obama on jobs.

  60. Yes Rubio will be dead thanks to the almost constant scandals related to associated people in Miami. Crist connected to Greer and the Democrats all connected to Aaronson, Wexler and Deutch. Bad news for all parties.

    That is why we need young people not connected to the power structure to run. Tara Laxer discussed here would be excellent as would several others around the Democratic party who are incorruptible.

  61. Spoke with Laxer. She is not doing it now she has bigger plans with preparing candidates for 2014. She is not dumb. She knows she can’t make a difference until there is a team and there is none in Tally. She is going to build that team with many. I mean who is going to do the campaigns once Johnson is jailed?

  62. I await Laxer’s move. Someone here said she had big plans. Hopes she runs vs. Abruzzo, but the 2014 plan sounds good, We should get more young ones to join that movement and run!

  63. I hear Laxer’s next move is to be on the ticket with Romney. She hates Obama, and with all the support she has on your blog she would be a shoe-in to take Florida. Oh, and according to her posts, she looks good, too. Too bad she can’t spell.

  64. Wendi targeting Tara? Wouldn’t be the first time. I hope Tara runs. She’ll shake up the county for sure.


    She does have the support. The people who actually walk precincts and work on campaigns and go to meetings LOVE her. She would be better for Jewish outreach than anyone if Obama is serious about Florida.

  66. Laxer is too smart to run in 2012. Everyone is going down and people will be begging her to run in 2014 with a slate of progressive, good government types. Johnson will be out luck with this group as will Delray Chiropractic.

  67. Wendi should stop this with her boy Johnson. She should realize that it only makes her look bad and her boss…who we love! Don’t act like kid.

  68. This article about Rubio is right on but if you remember the entire Republican party told Rubio to get out and to wait his turn. He had a plan and said this is what I believe in..screw you. All of sudden Crist decided oh I can run as an I because I am not going to win in my party. I can’t stand Rubio but at least he does what he believe in compared to most.

  69. I agree Frank. Jeb would. I think Obama is fine. The problem is not Obama…its the House and the Senate…and Tallahassee. We are going to be worse off after the election then we are now. At least we will re-elect Obama.

  70. I don’t mind Wendi but I think Eric Johnson is corrupt. Anyone who charges candidates as much as he does and threatens those who don’t hire him is scum and a crook.

  71. Laxer’s “big” plans will never come to be. She has made promises before both about running and about helping candidates and has almost always fallen short of expectations.

    Do not hold your breathe people.

  72. We have Burt Aaronson doing Jewish outreach for the Obama campaign. He is much better known and liked than Laxer. Sorry Tara.

  73. Jewish Outreach…Laxer knows that issue and she would not be doing the outreach for either campaign. She won’t play partisan politics on that issue. How is DWS Jewbag staff doing on the outreach with Burt? Who are you kidding?

  74. Concerned Democrat

    Rubio is very likely going to go through the VP motions to elevate his own profile and then “withdraw” when it becomes apparent that he will not be selected. Old trick really.


    What are you people going to do if she actually runs. She is a good liberal. Upset at Obama like other liberals for selling us out. Obama in alliance with Wexler and Aaronson are ruining the county. But I would never go Republican nor would she. As far as looks that helps for a potential candidate.

  76. I REALLY hope Laxer runs. She would be awesome, and even if Abruzzo wins it will shake up the corrupt, comfortable PBC establishment.

  77. Concerned Palm Beach Democrat

    Run Tara run! We need to shake up these corrupt bastards. Abruzzo is a bastard.

  78. Concerned Palm Beach Democrat

    Why would Laxer work with Aaronson? She is a policy wonk. Aaronson a petty hack.