That might have been because of the nature of the event, the annual meeting of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-back organization that gathers state lawmakers from throughout the country to develop model legislation.
Florida lawmakers were very much in evidence during the three-day gathering, particularly state Rep. Daniel Perez of Miami-Dade, who’s slotted to become state House Speaker in 2024 if the Republicans retain control.
But so were legislators from other states perhaps less interested in Florida’s skyrocketing housing and insurance costs and other bread-and-butter problems — although Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged about his record in the state during remarks delivered on Wednesday.
Scott and Rubio both spoke via a video link, since they were in Washington, D.C., to vote on the defense budget.
Scott’s remarks required about 34 seconds to convey. They included a greeting plus this statement: “Whether it be reining in reckless spending or keeping big-government bureaucracy out of your way I make it my daily mission to make Washington work for Florida families.”
So far, Democrat Phil Ehr, a retired Navy officer, is challenging Scott. Ehr is a former Republican who’s twice run as a Democrat in U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s far-West Panhandle district, losing in the primary in 2018 and by 30 points to Gaetz in the 2020 general election.
Other Democrats considering a run against Scott include former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins, Democratic state House leader Fentrice Driskell, and former South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
Scott launched his reelection campaign in January, pouring cold water on talk that he might run for the GOP nomination for president against DeSantis, Donald Trump, and the rest of the Republican field. He is a two-term Republican governor who preceded DeSantis in that office.
For his part, Rubio beat then-U.S. Rep. Val Deming of Central Florida by close to 58% vs. 41% in 2022. His term runs until 2028.
Rubio did mention the defense vote, noting that it required changing his plans to attend the convention in person. Speaking for about five minutes, he reminisced about attending ALEC gatherings while serving in the Florida House, including two years as speaker beginning in 2006.
During a slimmed-down version of his prepared remarks, Rubio, too, steered clear of the day-to-day problems of Floridians, keeping his focus national and international. For example, he decried the globalization that followed the end of the Cold War for transferring American jobs to countries including China and undermining America’s middle class.
He did call for vocational education to prepare students for “reliable” jobs like welding and truck driving that pay well without the need for higher education.
“America is too big and too diverse of a country to have a national government. The only way that we can hold this country together is to stick to the design of our Constitution that gave great power to the states and local communities,” he said.
“To the extent we can push more power to the state and local level, the better off the country is going to be.”
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