Now that Donald Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination is unimpeded, the talk about possible running mates is beginning to ramp up. One of those names being mentioned is Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Scott waited until after the March 15 Florida primary to endorse Trump, explaining his reasons on Fox News Channel.
“The voters have picked Donald Trump, it’s time to coalesce behind Donald Trump because we’ve got to win in November,” Scott said.
The Governor also appears to be downplaying the issue. He tells Politico that if offered the place on the ticket, he would decline. But Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida, says Donald Trump and Rick Scott do share some common threads.
“They’ve both been successful businessmen, and their whole political careers, both short, have been about improving the economy and the ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ theme as one that we’re seeing [as a] very, very high priority in almost every exit poll of every state primaries held so far,” said McManus.
Florida is considered a swing state, and if Trump, through Scott, can get a toehold here it may work to his advantage. But McManus isn’t sure that running mates do that much for presidential candidates anymore.
“We have a long history of people who have been put on a ticket that really haven’t even enabled the presidential candidate to carry their home state,” McManus says. “The old adage is ‘As Florida goes, so goes the nation,’ and it’s particularly critical for Republicans to win Florida. They cannot win the White House without it.”
One drawback in placing Scott on the ticket is the Governor’s low approval rating: currently 39% according to the firm Public Policy Polling. McManus says that’s reflective of the divided nature of Florida politics.
In some circles, the speculation over Scott possibly joining the Trump ticket is mashing up against other speculation: that he may challenge Bill Nelson for the Democratic incumbent’s U.S. Senate seat in 2018 when Scott terms out as governor. USF’s Susan McManus says stay tuned.
“That’s the biggest question mark out there,” says McManus. “Which direction would someone who were offered vice president but yet has aspirations for a U.S. Senate slot. It would be 100% on the shoulders of Rick Scott himself.”
Democrats, quite obviously, have a different take on Rick Scott as Donald Trump’s number-two. Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, had a simple response:
“We could not be so lucky,” he said.