Why Florida Is Not Marco Rubio Country

Massive releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee out to both Florida coasts are roiling voters who might otherwise be inclined to vote for Rubio.
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Marco Rubio's insistence that he will win the GOP in Florida on March 15 skips past bad facts with respect to GOP voters in the center of the state and on both Florida coasts. Massive releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee out to both Florida coasts are roiling voters who might otherwise be inclined to vote for Rubio.

The pollution coating Florida's coasts is due to water management practices that favor, first and foremost, the source of Rubio's main political support: Big Sugar. Simply put, 450,000 acres of sugarcane have stayed mostly dry under the pressure of historic rainfall while property owners and voters pay the price.

An online social media revolution is stirring up and linking constituencies -- from fishing guides, to realtors, and homeowners who depend, one way or another, on tourism-related jobs. The key point: these are conservative voters inclined in Florida to vote Republican.

In the past, a quiescent mainstream media isolated populations aggrieved by pollution. Fort Myers, on the west coast, didn't care much about what happens in Stuart, on the east coast. Palm Beach County didn't link up with Lee County. Facebook and Instagram and websites like Bullsugar.org are drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers to scenes of devastation along Florida's rivers, bays and waterways.

The costs of pollution link straight to Marco Rubio. While in the Florida legislature, Rubio was a transactional politician. Although best known for carrying Jeb Bush's water in the legislature, Rubio's main achievements were on behalf of directing funding toward water management and infrastructure protective of his key constituency: Big Sugar and Big Developers who depend on the state moving copious rainfall from their backyards. Taxpayers mostly pay the price.

A revealing moment was captured in New Hampshire, when a fellow Cuban American from Miami questioned Rubio. For many years, Rubio has been a climate change denier, refusing even to meet with scientists. Rubio tells Maribel Balbin in Spanish: We will mitigate our way out of climate change the same way we did with flooding in West Miami twenty years ago.

Marco Rubio came to political life in a small city council in West Miami. The lessons he learned about the environment is that there is political profit in directing taxpayer investment to the benefit of developers who depend on reliably draining boggy farmland or open space. That is exactly how Rubio responds to Maribel Balbin: the solution to climate change is "mitigation".

The failures of storm-water mitigation is the faulty premise at the heart of what is upsetting so many Republicans on both Florida coasts today. To Rubio, mitigation doesn't mean protecting the rivers and bays. It means protecting Big Sugar, from whence cometh his help. The signs say, "Florida is Marco Rubio Country", but on March 15, the signs will point in another direction.

Listen to Marco Rubio, here, at :30 minutes:

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