ORLANDO — In the ongoing coverage of the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, it’s often noted that Florida has provided two top-tier candidates — former Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — to the race.
There are actually three candidates who call Florida home in this race, and it was the third nominee who swept a straw poll on Thursday, conducted by two of the Sunshine State’s leading anti-tax groups.
Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, best selling author of the book “Gods, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” and former Fox News talk show host, won the straw poll conducted during the Florida Taxpayer Summit in Orlando.
More than 100 activists, political leaders, elected officials and candidates participated at this event, held at the Rosen Centre Hotel, and Huckabee won with 26.3 percent of the vote.
“It was a clear win for Huckabee, and it wasn’t even close to his nearest competitors, Rubio and Bush, who have both won statewide elections,” noted Keith Recine, president of the Florida Taxpayers Union, the largest taxpayer advocacy group, right after the vote.
That was a significant victory, considering that Rubio helped found the group while he was serving in the Florida Legislature.
Following Huckabee were Bush and Rubio, who tied at 13.1 percent each. Rounding out the straw poll were Donald Trump, who currently leads the race nationally and in early primary states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, who got 10.5 percent; Carly Fiorina (5.2 percent, Ben Carson (2.6 percent), Ted Cruz (2.6 percent) and Rick Santorum (2.6 percent).
The straw ballot was conducted by Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, who announced the totals to the audience after all the votes had been cast.
The Taxpayer summit was hosted by the Florida Taxpayers Union and Ax the Tax.
“I was not really that surprised that Huckabee did so well, considering his ground game appears to be taking off in several early primary and caucus states, including Florida,” said Doug Guetzloe, chairman of the anti-tax advocacy group Ax the Tax.
Established in 2008 with help of then former Florida House Speaker Rubio to represent taxpayers in the halls of Tallahassee and other governmental entities, the Florida Taxpayers Union has since signed up more than 100,000 state taxpayers on its email list. Affiliated with the National Taxpayers Union, the nation’s largest anti-tax-hike advocacy group, FTU works in concert with NTU on issues affecting Florida taxpayers.
The event was headlined by Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the iconic leader of the modern Republican conservative movement and a former congressman from California. Goldwater spoke for 35 minutes during the event, and commended the activists for their involvement in advocating for low taxation and a leaner appetite among government leaders.
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