Rubio’s constant use of provocative platitudes that insult the current President, even strongly implying treason and give out-of-context views on god and guns fit perfectly into what the GOP establishment wants in a candidate – someone who cannot really think for themselves and is easily controlled by party bosses and pressure groups. The junior Senator from Florida resembles programmed droid who can spit out rhetorical barbs when asked though he might make for a mockable Saturday Night Live skit.
A look into Rubio’s alliances from the past helps to explain why he is so dangerous to the electorate as a whole and controllable by GOP bosses. Much has been written about Rubio’s relationship with disgraced former State House colleague and Congressman David Rivera (R-Miami). For more on Rivera I’d recommend checking out the any of the number of excellent stories Politico’s Marc Caputo penned on him while with The Miami Herald. But far less has been discussed regarding Rubio and former Rep. Ralph Arza (R-Hialeah), one of the worst legislators that has served in the two plus decades I have followed Florida politics.
The low-caliber world of the Florida Legislature and Miami-Dade County politics is the origin for where this political hack cut his teeth. Having been elected to the State House in a Special Election in 2000, Rubio quickly impressed the Republican leadership by screaming about taxes, freedom and Ronald Reagan. By his first full session in 2001, those meaningless platitudes were having him fast-tracked to the speakership.
His closest ally in the legislature at the time was Rep. Arza (R-Hialeah), the legislature’s resident bully who enjoyed berating activists in public and attacking those volunteers who spent their own money coming from across the state to oppose the privatization of public education. Arza’s arrogance was so great that he’d attack volunteers as paid shills while he was making money on the side from the for-profit-school industry. Arza today is the Director of Governmental Affairs for the Florida Consortium of “Public” Charter Schools.
Rubio’s ally Arza was the chief water-carrier in the legislature for the private school industry and school voucher proponents. He also echoed Rubio’s talking points on “freedom” and taxes. Representing a lower-income urban district Arza’s voting record was much further to the right of his Republican colleagues (including Rivera) who represented Hialeah and Northwest Miami-Dade at the same time. He was a perfect compliment legislatively and temperamentally for an intellectual lightweight like Rubio who tried to give off a demeanor of a thoughtful legislator – Arza was a bully who could serve as an enforcer as Rubio climbed the leadership ranks.
Arza is of course best known for being found guilty of witness tampering and leaving racially insensitive messages using the N-word in reference to then Miami-Dade Schools boss Dr. Rudy Crew on the voicemail of then colleague Rep. Gus Barreiro (R-Miami Beach). Barreiro went to the media and filed an ethics complaint that led to Arza’s downfall and an embarrassing episode for incoming House Speaker Rubio. Arza was forced to resign from the House. This was in 2006.
Nine years later, Arza was still hanging around with Rubio, joining Rivera in cheering on their buddy at a GOP debate. This is among the reasons the claims that Rubio is a safer nominee than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz for the GOP are simply laughable. Arza is but one of many issues in Rubio’s Florida past that will haunt him if he is nominated by the Republicans.
The national GOP would have serious problems if Arza or Rivera were anywhere the party’s nominee. I’m not sure Trump, Cruz or Jeb Bush have alliances with former elected officials quite as controversial and problematic as Arza or Rivera. That’s not to mention Rubio’s other potential problems including the GOP credit card scandal. The Republican Party seems to badly want Rubio pushed forward despite this extensive baggage. The party might really regret crawling in bed with Rubio.