Six Stages of GOP Establishment Coming to Terms With Trump (as Illustrated by Florida Officials)

Florida's agriculture commissioner, Adam Putnam, announced today he intends to vote for Donald Trump. His reasoning: Trump isn't Hillary Clinton. Which isn't exactly the world's strongest endorsement. It's essentially the political equivalent of the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon if there ever was one. 

Putnam is one of four elected members of Florida's all-Republican cabinet, and all four have stunningly different approaches to how they're dealing with the impending Trump nomination. 

In fact, taken together with Florida's last two governors, who both were elected as Republicans, you have a perfect six-point illustration of the rainbow of ways in which the Republican establishment is dealing with Trump. 

Some have fully accepted Trump as their party's nominee, others seem to be angling themselves for the very real possibility of a fallout if Trump loses big in November, and others are actively opposing his campaign. 
All in for Trump: Attorney General Pam Bondi 
Attorney General Pam Bondi is the only statewide officeholder in Florida not only to have officially endorsed Trump, but also to have done so before the Florida primary. 

Sure, Bondi was originally onboard with Jeb Bush, as was most of Florida's GOP establishment, but she quickly jumped on the Trump train even though Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was still in the race.

"We live in a changing world, and we need leadership," Bondi told a Tampa crowd. "We need someone who is unafraid to lead and restore America to its greatness. And today I am proud to endorse Donald Trump."

It wasn't much of a surprise. Bondi, who's a former Fox News legal analyst, and Trump are old friends. In fact, Trump's charity made an ethically questionable donation to Bondi's campaign coffers in 2013

Bondi has also been floated by some as a possible long-shot vice presidential pick.
Respecting the Will of the Voters: Rick Scott 
Gov. Rick Scott always maintained he would not choose sides in the Republican primary, and to be fair, he hasn't written or uttered anything close to the words "I endorse Trump." He did, however, recognize that Trump was stirring up something in the Republican primary electorate and has since urged other Republicans to settle down, accept reality, and respect the will of their voters

At least that's the most objective reading of where Scott stands. We can better gauge how strongly Scott supports Trump by whether he signs onto the campaign fully and joins the Donald on the Florida campaign trail. It's also worth noting that Trump has a history of tweeting barbs at Scott
I'm Not With Her: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam 
Like most elected Republican officials in Florida, Putnam was originally a Jeb guy. Then he became a Rubio backer. Now, with no other choice, he has clarified that he will vote for Trump in November. 

"I have said from the beginning I would support the nominee," Putnam told the Tampa Bay Times. "He wasn't my first or second choice. I started with Jeb. Then I was with Senator Rubio, and all indications are [Trump] is going to be our nominee. As a proud Republican, I don't intend to support Hillary Clinton."
No Comment: CFO Jeff Atwater 
On March 24, Jeff Atwater said he wouldn't rush to endorse Donald Trump "anytime soon." Atwater hasn't endorsed Trump yet, but he did clarify in March that he would vote for the Republican nominee. 
#NeverTrump: Former Gov. Jeb Bush 
When Jeb Bush said, "Never Trump," he meant it. Even though all of Trump's opponents have dropped out, Bush is refusing to get on that train. 

"Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character," he wrote in a Facebook post last week. "He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy."

Trump shot back: "I think if I was Jeb Bush, I wouldn't vote for me either, if you want to know the truth." 
#I'mWithHer: Former Gov. Charlie Crist 
It wasn't actually that long ago when Charlie Crist was the leader of the Republican Party of Florida. Of course, the voters of the party spurned him in favor of Marco Rubio in the 2010 Republican Senate primary, setting Crist on a journey from GOP wunderkind to independent to, finally, official Democrat.

Many of the same factors in the present GOP electorate that led to a rejection of Crist have come full circle to lead to the acceptance of Trump. It'll be interesting to see how some down-ballot Republicans, especially the more moderate among them, end up negotiating this political climate. 

For what it's worth, Crist is fully on Team Hillary now. Clinton came down to the Sunshine State and stumped for Crist in 2014, and Crist attended one of Clinton's earlier fundraisers in Florida. 

Oddly, Trump himself did make $4,800 worth of donations to Crist's failed 2010 Senate campaign. What a world. 

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