Here's a fun game to watch play out as several announced and potential candidates for the Republican's 2012 presidential primary start visiting Florida: will any of them meet with Governor Rick Scott, let alone seek his endorsement? Former Utah Governor and ambassador to China John Huntsman is making a stop in Florida this week, and Politico makes a little too much of the fact that he's not going to be meeting with Scott. Though, we wouldn't be too shocked if this becomes a recurring theme.
Usually an endorsement from Florida's governor would be a sought after prize. Charlie Crist's endorsement of John McCain back in 2008 was viewed as helping McCain seal the state. Sure, there was never any question over who Jeb Bush would endorse in 2000, but having his brother in the governor's chair of an important swing state certainly helped George W. Bush.
It appears, though, that no one particularly wants Scott endorsement. The first term Republican governor's approval ratings are in the toilet. True, he's still somewhat popular among his own party -- the same voters presidential primary candidates will be wooing -- but those candidates also have to wonder how Scott's endorsement could play nationally. No one wants to tie themselves to a loose cannon.
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Two states over, Florida's new governor, Rick Scott, is in a similar situation. He was elected a popular Tea Party candidate, yet his role in 2012 may be small compared to other Floridians.
"Governor Scott will be willing to meet with all serious candidates," Susie Wiles, a longtime Florida Republican operative who worked on Scott's campaign, told TheDC. "Winning Florida is critically important to the winning nominee."
Even so, some don't see an early Rick Scott endorsement as being particularly crucial.
"The biggest gets in Florida endorsements are Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush," Florida media strategist Rick Wilson told TheDC. "Rick Scott will be more important as 2012 progresses, but for now he's been focused on the legislative session."
Rubio has already announced he will not endorse any candidate in the primary. That likely leaves Jeb Bush, who endorsed McCain in 2008, as the most important get in Florida.