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Jeb Out As GOP Race Continues

Jeb Bush Campaign

After collecting only eight percent of the vote in the South Carolina Republican Primary, Jeb Bush is now on the sidelines and the GOP presidential field is cut to five.

Bush announced the suspension of his campaign on Saturday, after finishing fourth in South Carolina, and after a similar finish in New Hampshire and sixth in the Iowa caucuses. The son and brother of former presidents entered the race to huge expectations. Some pundits even anointed him the Republican nominee before even one vote was cast. So what happened?

“One, he’s never been a particularly good politician, “says Charles Zelden, a political scientist at Nova Southeastern University. “He’s not bad as a policy wonk and as someone who does governing. But as a politician, he’s just not a natural like his brother [George W. Bush]. Secondly, he kind of ran into ‘Bush Fatigue’ at a time when the Republican Party wasn’t interested in the same old-same old.”

Bush also was hampered by the rise of Donald Trump, and Trump’s willingness to put the former Florida governor is his crosshairs.

“The fact that [Trump] could argue circles around Jeb – not content-wise,” Zelden said. “I don’t see where there’s that much content in Trump at this point. But rhetorically, Jeb just was out of his league.”

Working with a super PAC that has supported his candidacy, Bush and his allies raised more than $150 million by the end of 2015 — far more than any of his GOP rivals. With Bush now out of the race, to whom will donors and voters turn? Zelden says that could well be another Floridian, Marco Rubio.

“[Ohio Gov. John] Kasich is going to try to stay in it at least to Ohio,” Zelden says. “But it’s really going to be a race to see who’s going to be the alternate to Trump. And that’s going to be between [Ted] Cruz and Rubio.”

Florida’s primaries are March 15 and at this point, the state’s 67 Supervisors of Elections are looking at how the reduction of GOP candidates over the past few weeks is going to affect their work. Escambia County’s David Stafford says for now, Jeb Bush remains on the ballot here.

Those who have already voted for Bush will not get to vote again, and the ballots which have yet to be cast won’t be re-printed. But Stafford says there is a two-fold process for such an occurrence.

“The first thing is a notice that’s placed in voting booths and polling places during the primary, early voting, and the general election,” said Stafford. “And the second thing is for any absentee ballots mailed subsequent to that notification. They would have to carry a similar notice.”

The essence of that notice, says Stafford, is that a vote for a candidate that’s no longer running will not count.

But despite going to the polls two weeks after Super Tuesday, political scientist Charles Zelden says Florida voters will still play a role in deciding both nominees.

“Especially on the Republican side, there will only be about a third of the delegates chosen by the time Florida comes to vote,” said Zelden. “And Florida, remember, is a ‘winner take all’ state.”

In addition to the Bush money, Marco Rubio is expected to reap the support of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, according to Reuters, to the tune of $400 million. Reuters also reports the Koch’s are also planning to undercut Donald Trump's candidacy.