There will be no photograph of Rick Scott endorsing Donald Trump: The Florida governor said Thursday that he won’t formally back any Republican presidential candidate ahead of the March 15 primary.
“The political class opposed me when I first ran for office, they did not want a businessman outsider, but the voters had other ideas,” Scott wrote on Facebook. “I believed in the voters when I first ran for office, and I still believe in them today.”
Scott had all but endorsed Trump in a USA Today column published in January. Rumors ran rampant in Florida political circles in recent days that Scott would make his choice official soon — either when Trump celebrated Super Tuesday election results at his Palm Beach estate of Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night, or in Trump’s upcoming Orlando rally Saturday. But neither proved to be true.
Endorsing Trump — beyond the USA Today column — would have put Scott at odds with most GOP lawmakers in Tallahassee, something that might matter little to the governor in a year when the Legislature has ignored most of his priorities.
But if Scott really wants to run for U.S. Senate in 2018, he could use some support from Florida’s Republican establishment, most of which is siding with presidential contender Marco Rubio. That includes Scott’s lieutenant, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a close Rubio friend.
Scott has never been especially popular. But his backing could have boosted Trump in the eyes of holdouts who don’t like Rubio yet remain skeptical about the celebrity businessman. And Rubio would have been hurt by the spate of inevitable headlines noting the sitting Republican governor’s rejection.